- Directed By: Mathias Hoene
- Starring: Alan Ford, Harry Treadaway, Rasmus Hardiker, Honor Blackman
You’ll need a good understanding of cockney rhyming slang and a clear ear to catch all the dialogue in Mathias Hoene’s COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES. What is very similar to Shaun of the Dead via Guy Ritchie’s films, COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES talks a big show at rapid-fire pace to mask a big heart. Full yet brisk, the lousy title undersells a fantastically funny film.
The madness begins when two construction worker open a vault that has been sealed since the great plague of 1666 and, well, what’s in there is after Barbara and all of us. As the plague spreads through the east end of London (famous for the Jack the Ripper murders and home to many infamous British gangs), Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) are assembling a team to rob a bank so they can save the old folks home that their grandfather (Alan Ford) currently resides in that developers want to tear down. Mid-robbery the zombies overtake the police force and its up to Andy and Terry to rally their group and save their grandfather and his friends who have barricaded themselves in their home.
The real strength of COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES is the cast. With Richard Briers and Sixties Bond girl Honor Blackman aiding Ford on one side and a fantastically watchable group of young actors heading up the cavalry the sparks don’t truly begin to fly until the story lines merge and the old fogeys are given semi-automatics to fight their way out to safety. Which means we’re slogging through a lot of set up and forced relationships to get to the show-stopping moments promised in the poster. The film unfortunately gets bogged down in the who’s and why of the cast of characters that the groups encounter. While they are all charming in their own way, it all becomes too much when you forget what their ultimate goal is.
The film lacks in the the direction and scripting. There’s too much of it. Too many characters are added that have to be dealt with and the camera swings wildly through each scene. When Ritchie did this in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels it was a revitalization of British cinema. When Hoene does it, it feels like a tired retread. But it is refreshing to see characters look around at the chaos and acknowledge they are facing zombies and without too much fuss, get on with the fight.
As the film draws to a conclusion, it is actually quite heart-warming and truly good fun with genuine crowd pleasing moments. While not a necessary film, COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES is a watchable and entertaining romp through the tropes of both zombie films and British gangster fleas and itches*.
* Cockney rhyming slang for pictures.