Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson
Directed By: Henry Hobson
The Razzies now have an award that is basically like a “redemption” award. I think we should make a serious case for Schwarzenegger to get that award for his acting in Maggie. That’s right, he’s actually acting now. Full on, 100% emotions. Well, he’s not quite on the level of like Tom Hanks or Sean Penn, but he’s definitely showing a lot of promise. It’s his quietest film to-date, and it’s largely action-free. There’s almost zero ass kicking, and it’s not a zany Schwarzenegger comedy where he gets pregnant/saves Christmas/teaches kindergarten. It’s in its own special circle all by itself. And it’s actually pretty good.
But the other reason the film is good has to do with Abigail Breslin, who does a bang up job playing a teenager dealing with impending death and the range of emotions surrounding that. She knows her time is coming, her dad isn’t ready for her to go. They bond. Is this really an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie?
Oh, did I mention it’s a zombie apocalypse movie?
Now it all makes sense. But in all honesty, it doesn’t really play like a zombie film. It plays more like a cancer drama than an episode of The Walking Dead. The turning, in this particular universe, happens over a few weeks. So Maggie (Breslin), has weeks to ponder her upcoming zombification, and has actual time to say her goodbyes. Ultimately, she gets to choose if she wants to even be a zombie, or if she’d rather just take her own life preemptively. And Schwarzenegger stands by, very stoically, and watches his baby girl struggle. It’s a largely dialogue free movie, and while the promos would have you believe he’s the star, he’s not. She is. He compliments her in every scene, which is an unusual quality for Arnold, but he does a really great job here.
The pacing is a little slow, and it’s one of the darkest films I’ve ever seen. I know they wanted to remind people that there is no electricity, and I suppose they just used natural lighting, but it’s a really dark film. Sometimes, you just gotta figure out how to make lighting happen so we can see what’s going on. And for a 90 minute film to feel like it drags… that’s not a good sign either. Both of those things seem more like poor directorial choices than anything the actors are able to control, or even what the screenwriter initially had on paper.
Maggie isn’t a perfect film, but it’s an interesting diversion in the increasingly popular world of the walking dead (both the series, and inspired zombie films). And, more importantly, it’ll make you look at two actors in a completely different light.
FINAL GRADE: B