Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Exposing the day’s ills always has been George A. Romero’s motivation for each of his zombie movies — racial prejudice, empty-head mall culture, Cold War paranoia.
In his 2005 installment — which earned its place alongside the original installments of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, as well as Day of the Dead — Romero displayed residual 1980s anger (note the target practice on a very Ronald Reagan-esque balloon) and set his sights both on corporate America and the George W. Bush administration.
Any movie with Dennis Hopper as a maniacal stand-in for the President of the United States has the right amount of mad-genius energy. He’s Kaufman, a businessman who’s walled off himself and his fat-cat friends in Fiddler’s Grove, an enclave shutting out a world overrun by the risen undead.
Money alone won’t get you into the Grove, as payday-saving supply runner Cholo (John Leguizamo) learns when Kaufman shuts him out. In retaliation, he steals a mobile-command unit that could demolish Fiddler’s Grove. Kaufman enlists the unit’s designer (Simon Baker) to track it, while a zombie army attempts tumbling the wall.
Romero’s script crackles with lean Western-style quips and his direction balances slick action with copious wince-worthy gore. (Prepare for flashbacks now anytime you see a bellybutton ring.)
A sunshiny ending seemed odd for Romero but didn’t soften his satirical blow. Cockroaches won’t be an apocalypse’s only survivors; count on the surviving haves fashioning a sector of have-nots to exploit. In both respects, there were brains all over the place in this fine example of hard-R genre fun.