A well-deserved hit for fresh IP, Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland casually created an exciting universe to be expanded for sequels, prequels, games, comic books and more; unfortunately this sequel stalls straight out of the gate. The title gives the first hint; the notion of the double tap was thoroughly explored in the first film, so the sequel is promising nothing more than just the same. Sure, the trailer looks fun, with captions listing the award-winning credentials of an over-qualified cast, but the sense of spontaneity that the original film offered is MIA.
An undisclosed amount of time has passed since the events of the first film; Abigail Breslin has aged ten years, but the relationship between Columbus and Wichita (Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone) has moved on about three months They’re all living with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) in an abandoned White House, but when Madison (Abigail Breslin) runs away from home, the boys are forced to go to her rescue, whether she wants to be rescued or not.
Zombieland: Double Tap feels like the result of some bad script meetings. If you were charmed by the relationship between Columbus and Witchita, then you’ll watch aghast as it goes sour here. While it was amusing to visit Bill Murray’s house in the first film, the destinations here (The White House, Graceland, a hippy commune) don’t hold the same interest. And everyone seems out of character, constantly changing their minds about what they want. Part of the charm of the first film was seeing some big names take adeptly to the splattery vibe of a zombie movie; this sequel expands the universe to introduce a new set of characters played by Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Thomas Middleditch and Avan Jogia, and they’re all awful. For Tallahassee and Columbus to meet a mirror image team of zombie killers feels like a joke lifted directly from Shaun of the Dead, but doesn’t work the same way here.
The final climax depends on Tallahassee jumping onto a hook from a tall building and leading the zombies to their death; it doesn’t make much sense that there’s no plan for how to retrieve him. Logic doesn’t have to be a big deal in a comic universe like this, but in a story that’s all about planning and survival, Double Tap misses the point over and over again. If the first film made comedy look easy, the second film makes it look hard, with arch contrivances, plot holes, inconsistent characters and a general sense that they got this story right the first time around.