(US/Switzerland - 2015)
Directed by Henry Hobson. Written by John Scott 3. Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, J.D. Evermore, Douglas M. Griffin, Jodie Moore, Bryce Romero, Raeden Greer. (PG-13, 95 mins)
Once upon a time, the idea of Arnold Schwarzenegger starring in a zombie movie would mean plenty of action, horror, and the expected shouting of "Aim fah da head!" In his bumpy transition back to full-time acting since a decade in politics, Schwarzenegger hasn't enjoyed the box office blockbusters he had in his heyday, with only THE EXPENDABLES 2 and THE EXPENDABLES 3 being big moneymakers, though ESCAPE PLAN was a modest hit, but those were group efforts done with Sylvester Stallone and others. Elsewhere, the enjoyable THE LAST STAND and the dismal SABOTAGE were met with utter disinterest and absolutely tanked, and served as further proof that the geriatric action guys don't do well solo anymore (witness Stallone's fun BULLET TO THE HEAD bombing as well). Perhaps that's why Schwarzenegger chose now, at the age of 67, to take on the most unusual role of his career in MAGGIE, a moving, character-driven drama that happens to take place during a zombie apocalypse.
Get to da choppah!" or "It's not a too-mah!"). Schwarzenegger delivers a low-key performance that's unlike anything he's done before, and the fact that he's playing an Austrian-accented rural farmer never once becomes a distraction. His scenes with an excellent Breslin are often very touching, especially when he tells her how much of her mother's spirit she has in her, or when, on the ride back after an unpleasant checkup with the doctor midway through her turning, he makes her smile by playing a tape of Oscar Brown, Jr's "Maggie," and the shared look between the two conveys the kind of warmth and fond memories that words don't need to express.
promised "I'm gonna try not to come back." Wade and Maggie face her fate with bravery and her final act demonstrates a level of compassion not usually found in the genre, proof that no matter how sick you become and how much your body degrades and turns against itself before it finally dies, you're still you and that sense of who you are can never be completely taken away. MAGGIE isn't a typical summer horror movie, and it's surprising that everyone involved on the business end didn't force Hobson to turn it into one (Schwarzenegger was one of 21 credited producers, so he obviously believed in the project). It's a small film that Lionsgate recognized wouldn't be a commercial hit, which is likely why they relegated it to their arthouse Roadside Attractions division and released it on VOD. And that's fine, because a thoughtful, offbeat film like MAGGIE will cultivate an audience over time and remain relevant and effective much longer than a by-the-numbers zombie shoot 'em up with a quipping Ah-nuld and shitty Bulgarian CGI ever would.