Army of the Dead is an intensely soporific extravaganza dipped in the blood of tedium and ennui. It’s so listless, so vapid that it takes the vigour out of your body. Running for almost 2 hours and 30 minutes, the film tries to recruit you into its dead army by releasing boredom and malaise. I am sure there was no virus here that turned people into zombies. It was this defunct film. I am trying to remember a memorable scene, but there is none in the movie. How this project got greenlit is beyond my understanding unless, of course, it was pitched to a bunch of (un)dead studio executives suffering from brain malfunctioning.
This is the kind of film that shows signs of lameness from the beginning. You can’t expect decency from a story that starts with an accident caused by inattentive drivers. It’s sad, almost pathetic, that the filmmakers are still using distracted drivers to cause collisions. You know the type who don’t focus on the road while steering. It’s the most galling trope ever committed to the movies. But the sins in Army of the Dead had already begun before the first shot or scene. Why the hell would you transport an advanced and lethal zombie instead of finishing him off in the first place? If one were to ask director Zack Snyder this question, he would probably come up with this response, “Because this mindless decision allows me to construct cool shots and a feature-length film!” Someone should have told Snyder to at least put some life into his script. A plot about the walking dead doesn’t mean you hire corpses to write it.
Then again, how can you demand reasoning from a film with a bunch of cardboard characters performing a heist in a region infested with zombies? What’s more, all of them volunteer for the task willingly without a trace of protest or consideration for their lives (except for one wise person who backs away after knowing the risk). What good will $200 million do if you are not alive to spend it?
For a minute, let’s sweep the logic aside. Fine, the characters are dumb and stupid. What next? We should be treated with awesome, good-looking, and arresting action scenes. Army of the Dead doesn’t even offer this satisfaction. The fights are basic, consisting of routine bomb blasts and gun fires. Snyder promises competence in the opening credit scenes but then backs out from his guarantee. In all the dreariness, there are shimmers of hope that are not fleshed out properly. There are new kinds of zombies in Army of the Dead known as Alphas that are faster and smart enough to protect their heads with a helmet. There is a zombie tiger, too. But the film has no idea what to do with these new variants and reduces them to mediocrity. Army of the Dead shoehorns an emotional subplot with Scott (Dave Bautista) and his estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell). You don’t care for any of it, let alone shed a single tear for them.
You know what else is half-baked? The film’s attempts at social commentary. There is a line about free America, and an Alpha stands on top of the Statue of Liberty. Maybe Army of the Dead wants to shine a light on the brainless habit of Americans who chase after money without caring for their health and family. But the film overall is so packed with clichés that you don’t put much thought into it.
Huma Qureshi joins the list of Irrfan Khan in The Amazing Spider-Man and Anil Kapoor in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: Indians in American films who have little to no impact. Qureshi is basically a damsel in distress. Her part could be completely removed, the plot could be slightly restructured and voilà! You’d have the entire film with no significant distinction. To be honest, no one in the film is treated with importance. Everyone is as disposable as the undead creatures. This is indeed an army of the dead.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.