The world-famous tag line, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” just took on a whole new meaning with the release of Zack Snyder’s (300, Zack Snyder’s Justice League) upcoming zombie heist mash-up, Army of the Dead. And if it bears any similarities to the filmmaker’s directorial debut, 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, May 21st can’t come soon enough.
It’s certainly looking that way so far, with Snyder replacing Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” for an analogous backing track: Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler.”
Directed by Snyder, from a script he penned with Shay Hatten and Joby Harold and featuring an almighty ensemble cast including Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana De La Reguera and Theo Rossi, ARMY OF THE DEAD will transport audiences to an abandoned Las Vegas, walled off in an attempt to keep the zombies inside. When Scott Ward (Bautista), a displaced Vegas local, former zombie war hero who’s now flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town he now calls home, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), it’s with the ultimate proposition: Break into the zombie-infested quarantine zone to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault beneath the Strip before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours. Driven by the hope that the payoff could help pave the way to a reconciliation with his estranged daughter Kate (Purnell), Ward takes on the challenge, assembling a ragtag team of experts for the heist. They include Maria Cruz (de la Reguera), an ace mechanic and Ward’s old friend; Vanderohe (Hardwick), a zombie killing machine; Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro), a cynical helicopter pilot; Mikey Guzman (Raúl Castillo), a go-for-broke influencer and Chambers (Samantha Win), his ride-or-die; Martin (Garret Dillahunt), the casino’s head of security; a badass warrior known as the Coyote (Nora Arnezeder) who recruits Burt Cummings (Rossi), a slimy security guard; and a brilliant German safe cracker named Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer). Scott finds an unexpected emotional hurdle when Kate joins the expedition to search for Geeta (Huma Qureshi), a mother who’s gone missing inside the city. With a ticking clock, a notoriously impenetrable vault, and a smarter, faster horde of Alpha zombies closing in, only one thing’s for certain in the greatest heist ever attempted: survivors take all.
After lingering in development Hell for a number of years, our impatient wait is almost over as Army of the Dead will finally release in select theatres this May and on Netflix May 21st. In the meanwhile, we’ll leave you with the first taster of what’s to come.
Words: Howard Gorman