(This article contains spoilers for Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” on Netflix, and for the episode of “Fear the Walking Dead” that aired April 11)
There are a lot of things I expected from “Army of the Dead,” Zack Snyder’s new zombie flick that hit Netflix this week, but Garret Dillahunt’s turn as an absolute turd of a human being wasn’t one of them.
This being a zombie movie — and one about a ragtag team trying to pull a heist — there is of course a little bit of “the real monsters are people” going on here with two members of the heist crew: Theo Rossi’s security guard, Burt Cummings (a name that feels a bit flippant for a character who’s a rapist), and Dillahunt’s Martin. Martin is extremely unpleasant, constantly trying to get the other team members killed because he has his own separate agenda for this journey into zombie-infested Las Vegas.
Dillahunt clearly had a great time with it, turning himself into a sneering cartoon baddie who never does anything that benefits the group because he ultimately wants to be the only one who makes it out of there alive. When he finally gets his comeuppance at the, er, paws of a zombie white tiger in the goriest human death in all of “Army of the Dead,” it’s the sort of moment that would make a packed theater cheer.
It was a delightful thing to see in particular as somebody who watches “Fear the Walking Dead.” Dillahunt has been a series regular on the AMC series for the past three seasons, though his run recently ended when his character was killed last month.
That character, John Dorie, is pretty much the exact opposite of Martin on “Army of the Dead.” He’s a classic Western archetype of a guy — the honorable lawman who insists on doing things the right way, because doing things the wrong way makes you the same as the bad guys. In other words, a real boy scout type. A guy who ended up dead because he wouldn’t defend himself against a young teen.
You gotta think that, on some level at least, Dillahunt took on this role in “Army of the Dead” because it’s such a dramatic contrast to his part on “Fear the Walking Dead.” Not as a palate cleanser, since Snyder’s film had its principle photography back in 2019, almost certainly well before Dillahunt’s exit from “FTWD” had been decided on. Just a “it would be fun to do something completely different” kind of thing.
And for those of us still eating up all the new zombie media that’s out there, Dillahunt’s extremely obnoxious, mustache-twirling bad guy is kind of a thrill. It would have been fun to watch him chew up every scene anyway — Dillahunt is an excellent actor — but after three years of watching John Dorie the Boy Scout on TV, I couldn’t help but take some extra joy from fully hating this character in “Army of the Dead.”