Boy, Maggie is just a factory of sad.
I mean I knew going into it this wasn’t the kind of movie you would perhaps expect when you hear that Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to do a zombie movie. I’m sure for most people that paints a pretty delightful picture of Arnold ripping apart hordes of the undead with a non-stop barrage of one-liners to accompany each kill. This is absolutely 100% not that in any way. I knew that, but wow I can’t imagine people who didn’t would have had a very positive reaction.
Maggie provides a different spin on a zombie infested world. This is not the typical apocalypse that you would see in this kind of movie. Society is actually still functioning, just obviously not on the same level it once was. Anyone who is infected with this virus is encouraged to be quarantined once the virus gets them to full zombie status. However, prior to that point, many infected people are still out and about in the world, they are just being closely monitored. Food doesn’t seem horribly scarce and at one point a character even references that school will be starting soon. Hell even encountering and having to fight zombies is an incredibly rare occurrence, with only a couple of these moments happening in the movie. It was interesting to see a few differences in the way the zombie universe is portrayed.
Schwarzenegger is Wade and is overseeing his daughter Maggie who was recently bitten. She starts the movie in quarantine, but is allowed to go home with Wade until the infection spreads and she has to return to quarantine. From there, the movie is the heart-warming story of a dad spending a few final days with his daughter before she goes full zombie and he is forced to either kill her himself, or bring her to quarantine where my understanding is someone else kills her. Even for a zombie movie, this son of a bitch is real bleak.
Let’s start with performances. Schwarzenegger, who actually isn’t in the movie as much as perhaps you would expect, is very solid in a role that strips him of everything you would come to expect. He fights a couple of times, but in each case he doesn’t want to and he doesn’t do anything fancy. This isn’t action Arnold, this is sad Arnold. And as much as I don’t like Arnold sad, I have to see he is quite good at it. Abigail Breslin is the star of the show as Maggie and she is also impressive. After watching her on Scream Queens and seeing how bland she is there, it’s nice to be reminded that she can definitely still act.
As for the general movie….I don’t even know. I certainly didn’t enjoy watching it in the traditional sense. It’s a nonstop barrage of crushing dreariness that by the end, made me want to immediately reach for the cheeriest piece of nonsense I could get my hands on (which ended up being old episodes of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers) so I could cleanse my palette. It’s well directed and presents some interesting ideas, though the slow pace definitely started to wear on me. This is not a movie that is eager to get places. It is more than happy to take it’s time, with simple activities taking up minutes worth of screen time. I’m all for a deliberately paced movie, but this one occasionally made it hard to resist tapping that fast forward button.
Maggie is a movie I think I respect more than I actually like. I like the world it presents and a handful of individual scenes, but the movie as a whole didn’t quite do it for me. It’s great to see Arnold branch out in a very different role, and he handles the task admirably, I just hope the next time he does it, it’s in a better movie.