WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Zombieland: Double Tap, in theaters now.
When Zombieland first hit screens, fans rabidly fell in love with director Ruben Fleischer's band of unlikely heroes, thrown together in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and learning to become a family as they survived. It was an eclectic mix with the awkward Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), the trigger-happy, alpha-male redneck, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and sisters, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) fending off the undead.
Come Zombieland: Double Tap, though, they've levelled up over the last 10 years, pretty much figuring out the best means of slaying these monsters. However, Fleischer makes one big mistake -- well, two, to be honest -- in this sequel. The script wastes the two best zombie killers in its ranks and at the worst possible time, as the undead have also evolved into faster, stronger beasts.
NADA FROM NEVADA
The crew heads to Las Vegas to find Little Rock after she runs off with a boy, feeling confined and smothered by the concept of family. Like a teen heading off to college, she wants her freedom but as her people make a beeline for Graceland, they stop at an Elvis museum where Rosario Dawson's Nevada is living. She quickly beats up Tallahassee, thinking he's a burglar, and when they finally exchange pleasantries the gang realizes she's a badass soldier.
In fact, as they exchange war stories and we hear about the best zombie kills going around, it's clear Nevada is one of these legendary killers too. It's why Tallahassee is so quick to fall in love with her. Yet she's very much under-utilized in the movie, coming off as nothing more than your typical love interest for the protagonist. When her ex, Albuquerque (Luke Wilson), and his sidekick Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) turn inside the museum, she doesn't even get the majority of screentime killing them. It's all Columbus and Tallahassee, which sucks because she had an emotional connection to the duo.
By the finale, it's clear the director is merely saving her up as a Hail Mary play because when Team Zombieland find Little Rock at Babylon and they're all about to be devoured by a horde, Nevada crashes in with her monster truck, crushing the zombies with its giant wheels. It's a waste of a character because even after that, we don't see her unleashed in full -- hacking, slashing and gunning down zombies inside the hippie commune.
It would have been awesome had Tallahassee asked her to join the adventure because she would have truly integrated and feel like part of the team: a warrior kicking ass, instead of an add-on.
LANGUISHING LITTLE ROCK
The second killer who's wasted is, surprisingly, Little Rock. She was such an amazing slayer in the first film, shocking fans with her spunk and attitude despite her age and size. Now, though, she's a mere crutch and plot device for Wichita to follow. Little Rock doesn't get to fight any serious battles and she's reduced to a whiny, rebellious teenage girl who begins to hate the idea of a family despite clamoring for one in the previous installment.
That uncharacteristic emotional U-turn aside, we're still trying to figure out why she wasn't given more agency in killing zombies. All she is here is someone smoking weed with her boyfriend and his hippies, not caring what's going on in the zombie apocalypse. She's utterly wasted (no pun intended) and it's not until the final scene we see her finally firing a weapon: With Tallahassee hanging off a crane at the top of Babylon's tower, a couple of zombies are holding his foot and dangling, only for Little Rock to shoot them with the pistol he gave her for Christmas.
She saves his life but this is clearly done to force a father-daughter moment between them. It doesn't feel natural because the commune melted down everyone's weapons so having her forget she had this gun because she was high is pretty weak. Ultimately, this is all we get of Little Rock as a soldier and it's a far cry from what we once knew her to be.
In the beginning, we don't even get to see her killing the horde she mentions for practice, all to get away from Tallahassee's constant neediness. This leaves us wondering why Fleischer has her take a backseat, reducing her to such a secondary character when her ruthlessness would have been perfect to kill the new zombies (aka the Bolts or T-800s) running amok.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer from a script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and David Callaham, Zombieland: Double Tap stars Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin. The film is in theaters now.