Army of the Dead (2021) | Discussion, Recommendations and Spoilers | Film Review
Army of the Dead (2021) is an action-horror film directed by Zack Snyder, written by Zack Snyder, Joby Harold and Shay Hatten and stars Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Mattias Schweighofer, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanaka and Tig Notaro. It was released on Netflix on May 21, 2021.
At the start of the film, we follow a couple driving on a dark road alongside a barren landscape on the outskirts of Las Vegas. We see the bright lights of Las Vegas off in the distance and it becomes apparent they are on the way to Las Vegas to get married. At the same time, an armored military convoy is traveling on the same road, carrying some mysterious cargo. We are not told what the cargo is and we learn that the military personnel are also in the dark about what the cargo is.
The car that is carrying the bride and groom is being driven by the groom. As the groom becomes distracted, he crashes the car, which in turn causes the convoy coming from the opposite direction to crash several of their vehicles as well. As the survivors of the convoy crash exit their vehicles, they see the thick metal box carrying the mysterious cargo start to move. They become alarmed and aim their guns at the metal box and the door to the metal box flies open. A thickly muscled zombie with mottled skin bursts out of the box. The military personnel aim their guns at the zombie, but he is too powerful for bullets to take him down. The zombie attacks the men and infects them, then seemingly heads towards the bright lights of Las Vegas.
Some time later, we see that the zombie reached Las Vegas and infected most of the city. We see that the military and some mercenaries have been hired to try to control the outbreak, but to no avail. The government eventually quarantines the city using large shipping containers stacked high in a large circle around the city. We learn that the government, seeing no other option, plans to detonate a nuclear bomb to eliminate the infected city of Las Vegas.
We are then introduced to some of the mercenaries who were hired to try to eliminate the infection in Las Vegas. One of the mercenaries, Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), works in a restaurant and has an estranged daughter, Kate Ward (Ella Purnell), who works as a volunteer in one of the quarantine camps just outside the walls of Las Vegas. Scott is approached by a rich casino owner named Bly Tanaka and his crony, Martin. Bly tells Scott that he would like to hire him to retrieve a large amount of money in the vault of his casino before the government bombs Las Vegas.
As the amount of money is $200,000,000, Scott is very intrigued and tempted as he doesn't want to work in a rundown restaurant forever and would like to have a better life. He goes on a quest to request help from the mercenaries he worked with in Las Vegas and other people who have special skills, such as a safecracker named Dieter (Mattias Schweighofer).
All of the mercenaries agree to help for a cut of the money, but they still have a problem: how will they get in? Scott has the idea to go to the quarantine camp and while there, speaks with his estranged daughter. Kate suggests that they enlist the help of a woman who goes by the moniker, "The Coyote", a.k.a., Lily (Nora Arnezeder), who has helped several people get into Las Vegas. Kate's only stipulation is that Scott take her into Las Vegas as well so she can try to find her friend, who had been led into Las Vegas by Lily a short time earlier. Scott is very hesitant to let Kate come with him, but as Kate is adamant she is going in no matter what, Scott relents but tells Kate that he will only agree to the terms if she stays in his sight at all times. Kate agrees and Lily tells the group they need to take another person with them.
Lily points out an abusive security guard named Burt (Theo Rossi) and asks if he wants to come along. The reason for his inclusion isn't clear at first, but it soon becomes apparent after they breach the walls of Las Vegas. It turns out there are intelligent zombies and they will leave the group alone as long as they bring them a sacrifice, someone they can turn into a zombie. Lily brought Burt so he could be the sacrifice. Lily injures Burt and allows the zombies to take him and the rest of the group head towards the casino to crack the safe and retrieve the cash before the bomb is dropped.
The rest of the film follows the group as they enter the casino and try to the retrieve the money before either the zombies become restless and attack or the bomb is dropped on the city.
If You Like This Film, You May Also Like:
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The Town (2010)
The Dark Knight (2008)
* Discussion contains spoilers
I really liked Army of the Dead (2021). I thought the film had enough action and horror to not make it boring, but it also had a great deal of character development and the story was well-written. I cared about each and every character, even the ones who had flaws or were considered terrible. There were characters who died who I thought would live and characters who lived who I didn't think would make it. The film really kept me anxious about what would happen to everyone and how it would turn out in the end.
The film also didn't end how I thought it would at all. The crew of mercenaries made it into the casino and broke into the safe, only to find out that the Bly didn't want the money after all; all Bly wanted was the head of a zombie in order to sell it as a bioweapon to the highest bidder. As the mercenaries began dying, one by one, I became increasingly worried that no one would make it out alive, especially since in the film the government moved up the time that the bomb would be dropped.
In the end, only Kate made it. Vanderohe (Omari Hardwicke), seemingly made it out alive as Dieter had locked him in the vault safe prior to the bomb dropping, but as he left Las Vegas and caught a flight out to Mexico, he discovered he was bitten on the arm and infected, thus possibly allowing for a sequel in Mexico.
All in all, I really enjoyed watching this film. I thought it was very thoughtful and a lot of focus was put into character development. I really enjoy watching Dawn of the Dead (2004) as well and this was supposed to be a spiritual sequel to that film. I think both films are thoughtful and do well at character development, despite the sort of ridiculous premise.
Have you seen this film? What did you think of it if you did? Are you interested in watching this film? Did you watch Dawn of the Dead (2004)? Did you like that film? Please share your thoughts below!