Zombies show up. Navy SEALS fight them. That’s pretty much it.
I can only imagine the pitch for this movie went something like this;
‘So zombies show up and then Navy SEALS have to fight them to rescue the vice-president.’
‘That’s it? You sure you don’t want to flesh out the screenplay a bit? Why should I fund this over all the other movies on my desk?’
‘We’ll do it with small budget.’
While this may be an overly sarcastic opening, don’t get me wrong; Navy SEALS vs Zombies is by no means a bad movie. Especially when viewed in the context of its modest runtime and, apparently, even more modest budget. I don’t know the exact details of how much money they had to play with, but there are some clear signs, such as the entirely CGI fire and explosions. Or the fact that the bulk of the main action of the movie happens during the day, which I assume is cheaper than filming at night.
The movie opens with the Vice President making a press stop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when zombies start attacking. With local law enforcement and a FBI team swiftly overwhelmed, a hardened Navy SEAL team, plus the newly joined rookie team member AJ, to go in there and save the Vice President. Things get more complicated when it’s revealed that a CIA lab in the city may have the cure to the outbreak and the scientist working there needs to be extracted.
But while Navy SEALS vs Zombies isn’t a bad movie, it’s not a particularly brilliant one either. Many of the zombie movie clichés are present; AJ has a pregnant fiancé waiting for him back home, there’s a reporter who sees the disaster as a ‘once in a lifetime’ story to cover and therefore remains in the city. There’s even the hard headed military commander who initially ignores the CIA agent as she tries to tell him about the crucial lab.
Once the SEALS enter the city, you get the impression that film makers realised that the movie couldn’t run too long. Plot points come and go very swiftly and some of the common concerns of a zombie scenario (such as limited ammo) are given lip service and then forgotten about. The reporter, who declined to be airlifted out with the Vice President, doesn’t end up serving any purpose other than giving AJ someone to talk to when he gets separated from the rest of the team. Even the crucial lab is within walking distance of the government building they find the Vice President in. At one point, while on lookout, AJ sees some civilians being attacked by zombies. The lieutenant orders him to leave them to die as opening fire will draw zombies to their position. After some tense discussion AJ decides to… do as he’s told and that’s it. Solid military tactics, but God forbid we have some inter-character conflict to give them some depth.
The acting is good quality on almost all counts and helps to cover for the fact that the characters the actors are playing aren’t hugely deep. The only exceptions to this are the extras they hired to play the zombies. They’re fine if they’re playing a zombie the camera is focused on, but background zombies often forget their zombie mannerisms and just become people in zombie makeup doing a sponsored sprint. There’s an awkward moment at the climax where eagle eyed viewers will be able to see one of the zombies flip a latch at the top of the door so the zombies can ‘force it open’.
Like a kindly nursery teacher, I can’t bring myself to dislike Navy Seals vs Zombies slightly shambolic efforts because, gosh darn it, they worked so hard. It’s clear a lot of heart and soul went into making this and I wasn’t bored while watching; though I was playing Pokémon while I did, so it didn’t have me on the edge of my seat either. The acting is good though, as is the fight choreography, so I’m going to be lenient on it (yes 2.5 out of 5 is being lenient).
Director: Stanton Barrett
Starring: Ed Quinn, Rick Fox, Michael Dudikoff, Molly Hagan, Stephanie Honoré
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Date: 15th February 2015