Army of the Dead is a Netflix zombie heist film written and directed by Zack Snyder. This is a spoiler-heavy review, so if you haven’t watched the movie yet, watch it!
The Netflix movie starts with a ton of military personnel escorting a large locked storage container. The container feels a bit like when the crew was moving the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. There’s a horrible vehicle accident that flips the sealed box, and when a soldier radios to their command, they are told to leave the area immediately.
For whatever reason, the guys decide to leave on foot instead of hopping in their vehicles and driving away. A large, muscled zombie exits the container, and he is lightning fast. The zombie starts taking out everyone around him and doesn’t leave any survivors. The transition from an average human to a blood-thirsty zombie is almost instant, and he starts to build his army.
The transport vehicles were pretty close to Las Vegas, and that’s where the zombie leader decides to create his home. The opening credits roll, and it feels very much like Zombieland, which is also on Netflix right now. We see a variety of people either dying horrible deaths or slashing zombies ruthlessly. A small group makes it out of the Las Vegas area before large storage containers drop to secure a border around the city. These are not World War Z zombies, and they cannot climb over the storage containers. Sealing them in Las Vegas works, but it concerns the rest of America.
Is Army of the Dead good?
Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) is one of the Las Vegas survivors. After epically killing zombies, he lands a job as a burger flipper at a restaurant. While working one day, a very wealthy casino owner, Hunter Bly (Hiroyuki Sanada), offers Scott a job. Hunter wants Scott to assemble a team to break into the restricted Las Vegas area and grab Hunter’s millions of dollars stashed in the casino vault. To Scott, this seems more fulfilling than flipping burgers, and it pays much better, so he starts assembling a team. This moment is where Army of the Dead starts to feel a little like Ocean’s Eleven.
Scott builds an epic team, including good friend Geeta (Huma Qureshi), helicopter pilot Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro), safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer), and shooters Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera), Mikey Guzman (Raul Castillo), and Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick). They make it into the quarantine zone through Scott’s daughter, Kate Ward (Ella Purnell) and Lily (Nora Arnezeder). Hunter insists on his man, Martin (Garret Dillahunt), joining the crew last minute.
Sons of Anarchy fans may be excited to know Theo Rossi has a role in Army of the Dead, but his character, Burt Cummings, is an absolute jerk. So the excitement may turn to cringe pretty quick.
Everything goes wrong after Martin decides to bag an Alpha head. Martin explains that there’s more power in owning an Alpha head than in grabbing all the money in the vault. This move makes sense for a villain, but the movie’s entire plot is confusing when you realize the villain just wanted a zombie’s head. Why would they need an entire team to get a zombie’s head? They ran into zombies when they first entered Las Vegas. Martin could have taken a zombie’s head then and left behind the exit door a few feet behind them. But instead, Martin doesn’t harm the first zombies and follows the crew through a labyrinth to the casino vault.
The Army of the Dead zombies are unique. Snyder creates a zombie hierarchy with typical slow and dumb zombie “Shamblers” and the more intelligent and faster “Alphas.” The primary Alpha, Zeus, can bite someone and turn them into another Alpha. But if another Alpha other than Zeus bites someone, they become a typical dumb Shambler. Synder even introduces the idea that zombies can have children. Can Zeus father zombie kids? Can other Alphas or Shamblers have children? There will be a much bigger zombie infestation if they can reproduce freely.
Army of the Dead is a super fun zombie-killing movie that doesn’t leave many survivors. There’s tons of action, gore, and fantastic cinematography. One of the areas of this film that is lacking is character development. Character development isn’t essential for most zombie films. But they tried to build a relationship between Scott and Geeta a little too late, and Scott’s relationship with his daughter Kate was a bit forced too. Honestly, all the character development could have been eliminated from Army of the Dead, and it would still be a fun watch. I don’t think many viewers are expecting to build attachments toward people in a zombie flick.
The cast of Army of the Dead is phenomenal. Bautista’s role as Scott may be his best yet. The action scenes felt explicitly designed for him, and he truly shined. Maria had one of the best fight scenes when she was completely alone. She handled so many zombies without any help, and it was super fun to watch. I liked the interactions between Vanderohe and Ludwig so much. Ludwig was necessary to the mission because he could crack the safe, but he had never fired a gun before. Vanderohe had the unfortunate task of keeping an eye on Ludwig, which usually left him fighting for two. But they built a bit of a bond in Las Vegas.
The ending of Army of the Dead sets it up for a sequel. So we’ll soon find out if Snyder has plans to expand the much-loved Army of the Dead franchise. He has several options because we don’t know the back story for Zeus, and we don’t know what happened after the crew left Las Vegas. Do you want an Army of the Dead sequel? Let us know in the comments.
Army of the Dead is streaming on Netflix now!Next: 50 best Netflix movies to watch right now