‘Army of the Dead:’ A spoiler-free review

Actor Dave Bautista leads a charismatic crew on a heist through hell in the new film from director Zack Snyder. Check out our spoiler-free review of "Army of the Dead."

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Zack Snyder’s return to the zombie genre elevates it to new heights. “Army of the Dead” is everything you could possibly ask for from a zombie heist movie.

The set pieces, action, cast and story are all perfectly in sync with what the film sets out to be. It’s a bold new take on a relatively saturated market with most new zombie flicks falling into a “been there, done that” grave. “Army of the Dead” strikes a perfect balance of relying on familiar zombie tropes while also introducing new concepts resulting in a desire to know just how this world works.

“Army of the Dead” follows a relatively simple plot. There’s a lot of cash in a casino vault, the crew has to get in, get the cash and escape before a nuke wipes out the city, all while fighting off the zombie hordes that roam the fallen utopia. Although simple, the film’s story does a good job of foreshadowing plot points that aren’t fully realized until the opportune moment. 

The crew ensemble is cast extremely well and plays off each other’s energy with great chemistry. Dave Bautista leads the way with his performance as Scott Ward, a soldier recognized for his bravery during the downfall of Las Vegas but left with little to show for it besides a shiny medal.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Bautista continues to develop as a strong actor with a range that leaves any stigma of being an ex-wrestler behind. “Army of the Dead” gives Bautista an opportunity to play a traumatized soldier and redemption seeking father in which he delivers a surprisingly heartfelt performance. Dwayne Johnson better watch out, Bautista is making up some serious ground for the wrestler-turned-actor crown. 

It’s difficult to specifically single out the other actors as they are all very well done. I can’t give each one the proper kudos they deserve, from Tig Notaro’s difficult task of recording her scenes after the rest of the movie was shot to Richard Cetrone’s embodiment of the head zombie, Zeus.

They all deliver authentic and convincing performances that keep the audience engaged and invested in what happens to their characters. But I don’t think I could forgive myself for not mentioning Matthias Schweighöfer’s performance as Ludwig Dieter. The character serves as the film’s comedic relief who steals the show with his charismatic humor and rewarding development as the German safe-cracker.

“Army of the Dead” delivers on all that it promises. The plot is simple yet intriguing, the cast is enjoyable, the action is top notch, and it sets up a world in which I am genuinely intrigued to see more of. I’ll say that I don’t think it’s a masterpiece but “Army of the Dead” is absolutely a film that Zack Snyder and all involved should be proud to have included in their portfolio. 

I can’t see a reason why anyone should leave the movie disappointed without having walked in with absurdly unrealistic expectations. It’s a hell of a good time and one you’ll definitely want to check out in theaters if you can.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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