Dead Rising: Endgame is the sequel to 2015's Dead Rising: Watchtower -- a fact that is not mentioned anywhere on the disc's packaging and was quite a surprise to this critic, who had no idea there was a previous Dead Rising direct-to-video movie to watch before diving into this one. Not that the vague confusion makes much difference: this is a mildly entertaining, atrociously written, skillfully staged bit of zombie nonsense that seems likely to please the kind of fans who are interested in it, even as someone outside the loop on both the original games and the previous chapter in the burgeoning movie franchise.
The bad first: there may not be a single line of dialogue in the movie's entire 96-minute running time that sounds like something an actual human being would say. It's not even twenty minutes into the film before Metcalfe grimaces his way through an "I'm too old for this shit," and for a movie that relegates its minimal snippets of recap to a fast-paced montage in the opening credits, it feels like the entire movie is wall-to-wall exposition about where the characters have been, where they're going, and what they're doing on-screen as they struggle through another few pages of exposition. Writers Michael Ferris and Tim Carter never met a cliche they didn't want to hear coming out of somebody's mouth, and each one of those cliches is infused with technical terms relating to the medicinal chips Phenotrans and the army have injected into over a million infected people, or the hacking that Sandra has to do. Top it all of with a boatload of terms that come from the game (such as "Zombrex", the outbreak-curbing medication) or tie in events from the series, and you've got a great recipe for a word soup.
On the other hand, director Pat Williams acquits himself with relative ease, staging the usual zombie action with a surprising amount of panache. I enjoyed 2016's widely-praised Train to Busan, but that film's strengths laid less in making zombie action more interesting and more in presenting a unique cast of potential victims. Here, Williams devises some entertainingly wild sequences, such as a zombie trying to headbutt his way through the windshield of a car while Chase is driving it, some fun up-and-down antics on two floors worth of escalators, and a climactic, all-in-one-shot sequence in a medical bay that makes a decent play for Universal Soldier: Regeneration's impressive DTV action camerawork crown. None of it is wildly original, some of it is definitely hampered by the movie's limited effects budget (although Williams hides his limitations better than most), and it's hard to say it'd be worth sitting through the rest of the movie for if you're not already a Dead Rising fan, but it is entertaining.
With an excessively complicated plot and horrible dialogue to deal with, the performances are not among Dead Rising: Endgame's strong suits, but nobody comes out looking too poorly. Ian Tracey manages to shade in a bit of nuance to his wimpy executive, and although the movie hardly has time for it, there's a decent subplot involving Jill and her attempts to get the truth to the public. There's also a bit part, a solider played by Stephen Lobo, who earns special notice for being both an interesting character and a surprisingly sympathetic performance. Those who check the film out for its bigger names like Haysbert and Billy Zane will be disappointed, however, as Haysbert has nothing to do but deliver jargon, and Zane is hardly in the film at all, appearing only fifteen minutes before the movie ends. Game fans will also enjoy a cameo by one of the series' characters in the flesh, all before Endgame sets up the next chapter in the series.
The Video and Audio