Take a Drink: during each quiet moment
Do a Shot: each time Maggie begins to change
Take a Drink: everytime Arnold looks sad
Do a Shot: for each zombie movie cliche
By: Matt Conway (Three Beers) –
After being one of the biggest action stars of the latter quarter of the 20th century, Arnold Schwarzenegger has fallen upon tough times. Outside of film, Schwarzenegger became Governor of California, which was an era marred by an economic dive in the state. After his short term, Schwarzenegger was caught having an affair with his maid, which led to his divorce with his long-time wife Maria Shriver.
With all of these aspects of his life going to hell, it’s not a shock that his return to film has been generally uninspired. Schwarzenegger has showed flashes of the charismatic action badass we used to know and love, but mainly in uninspired flicks. Neither The Last Stand nor The Expendables series were good enough or successful enough to convince many about his comeback. With his roles in action not performing as well, Schwarzenegger’s latest film Maggie is a welcomed change of pace, a surprisingly thoughtful film featuring his best performance in years.
Maggie is the latest take on the zombie apocalypse. After being infected with the zombie virus, Maggie returns back home to her loving father Wade for support through her turning process.
The conversation for this movie typically starts with Schwarzenegger’s performance, which is surprisingly quite good. For once, Schwarzenegger as actually toned down, not playing up to his larger than life persona. As Wade, he is a protective father who truly would give up anything to protect his daughter. We have seen that sort of stereotype before in a few of his action films persay, but here Schwarzenegger adds real dramatic depth to the character, making him not just your ordinary everyman.
Going toe to toe with Schwarzenegger is Abigail Breslin, who in my opinion has not had a great role to play since her Oscar-nominated turn in Little Miss Sunshine. Here, Breslin has the tall task of playing the titular character, one who has one foot in humanity and the other transforming into a zombie. Breslin evokes that struggle, trying to maintain her adolescent relationships despite her days being numbered.
Both Schwarzenegger and Breslin’s performances make up the heart of the film. Maggie quietly is able to depict the struggles a father has to face with her daughter in serious condition, using the zombie apocalypse as its canvas. That heartbreaking dilemma is done with a great deal of restraint, with a few small scenes really dealing an emotional punch that caught me off guard.
Shining in his directorial debut is Henry Hobson, who shows a great deal of promise. Hobson has to be given a lot of credit for his restraint with his characters and situations, which works quite well. There is only one zombie kill in the movie, and for a flick starring Arnold that is a shocking factoid. Hobson instead trusts in his actors and script to ring through, a leap of faith that works for the most part.
Maggie does have its fair share of issues, however. The film moves at a zombie-like pace, with its short 95 minute running time feeling much longer than that. I can understand movies with a sense of dread feeling longer than they actually are, but it still felt like there could have been sections of the film cut down considering how little of a role they played in the main story.
The pace plays into another underlying problem with the film. While John Scott’s script nails the father-daughter relationship, a lot of the film’s side aspects fall flat. A detour into Breslin’s friendship with another infected teen is good in concept, but does not have enough time to develop. Joely Richardson as the mother character also has nothing to do, which is a shame because it could have been an important role.
Where Maggie dropped the ball the most, however, is its finale, which misses at the chance to end with an emotional punch. It feels incredibly rushed to be honest, and does not give the closure that the characters felt like they could have had. There seemed to be numerous ways to end this film, and it seems like Scott’s script features the simplest possible ending it could have had.
Not without its fair share of flaws, Maggie is still a surprisingly unique take on the zombie genre. Instead of focusing on killing zombies, the film instead is a thoughtful take on the family dynamic in a post-apocalypse landscape. The great performances of both Schwarzenegger and Breslin help create several emotionally resonant scenes, with Schwarzenegger giving perhaps his best performance.