So this is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s smaller companion piece to his bigger effort this year (Terminator: Genisys). Since his return to cinema, he’s been kinda pushing an elephant up the stairs. Times have moved on quite a bit since the early ’00s and he has to work harder to retain his former status – his return has not set the world on fire, with his best appearance since 2003 being in Escape Plan. But even that was a two-hander, with Sylvester Stallone carrying part of the load. Here, he’s trying something different. The fact that this is a smaller feature allows room for experimentation. The plan here was for Schwarzenegger to woo the socks off the people who have moved on by doing something bold – acting his way back to repute.
The story in theory offers good foundations for that tactic – a mid western father shelters his terminal daughter, in the midst of a zombie apocalypse (mostly beyond the reach and perimeter of the secluded ranch). Father and daughter endure the slow turning into the undead. Maggie is a sleepy and often disengaging movie. It isn’t bad, just incredibly uneventful and I would say a movie that would cater more to the female demographic than a typical reader of this site. At it’s worst it’s a bad day at Dawson’s Creek, with juvenile angst quick sanding us into frustration. In its better moments we see a totally different side of Schwarzenegger, calling on decades of experience and intuition to put in a career-best performance.
At one point, Schwarzenegger sheds a tear, something I’ve never seen him do before. And I respect and commend him for doing it, something that reminds me in multiple ways of Sylvester Stallone’s turn in Cop Land, where he went the understated route and put on extra pounds. I’m man enough to try other things, that was the message. Abigail Breslin (the little girl from ‘Signs’) plays the daughter, giving an extremely impressive performance. Natural and in touch with sombre gravity of the character’s situation. She is featured slightly more than Schwarzenegger, title role after all, so her woes as a female are explored more. Which is why females might dig this more, you could get away with taking your girlfriend to the movie, especially if you’re an Arnold fan.
But this movie, overall, is slow, dreary and kind of depressing. It’s kind of rote, it refuses to move, with concrete-stiff pacing. Even at 97 minutes or so it feels like chewing tough old meat too often. It’s an average movie, interesting in its own way, but I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to catch this.