Film Review: Maggie
Directed by: Henry Hobson
Runtime: 95 min
Since his time as The Governator came to an end the box office has not been kind to Arnold Schwarzenegger. His output since then: The Last Stand, Sabotage, Escape Plan, and a couple of expendable Expendables films has proven that he cannot get by on star power alone, since star power died a couple of Tom Cruise films ago. In his immediate future he will rely on some of the past characters he’s played, characters that have overtaken him in the realms of pop culture: Terminator and Conan. In the meantime Arnie has went the indie route with Maggie, a move that even a few years ago would have been impossible to imagine.
Arnie plays Wade Vogel, a man living through a zombie outbreak that seems to be on a hair trigger of becoming out of control. In the midst of all this Wade travels to the infested city in order to bring his eldest daughter, the titular Maggie played by Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin, home to the relative safety of his farm. As it turns out Maggie has been bitten by one of those undead rascals, and has to undergo the slowest zombie transformation in movie history.
All in all Maggie is a perfect example of an anti-Arnie film. His Wade Vogel is no cop, solider, or even an adrenalized parent who leaves a trail of destruction to get his kid back; he’s just a humble farmer who does humble farmer things. Arnie going indie, and the stunt casting involved in making this happen is the only real reason to give Maggie a watch. Performance-wise he is quietly effective as a grieving father who is watching his daughter slowly die and being powerless to stop it. The fact that the usually world beating Schwarzenegger is, by all intense purposes, impotent, brings out layers of his performance that we’ve never seen in his decade spanning career.
Barring Arnie’s gracefully understated performance, Maggie doesn’t really have a lot else to offer. The zombie genre, which is now closer to played-out than it is to its heyday has been infecting different genres in order to stay fresh. We’ve seen zombie comedies, blockbusters, romance, and now there is the teen weepy courtesy of Maggie think If I Stay but with zombies, and yes it is as bad as that.
The problem is the director Henry Hobson who directs like a Terrence Malick knock off: scenes shoot in twilight, check, close-ups of shrubbery, check, and golden colour palette check. Hobson follows all the rules of making this type of indie cinema, he’s even got a scene with teenagers running around with sparklers for God sake. Blame can also be thrown at screenwriter John Scott whose script feels more like a template or first draft. Breslin’s talents are wasted by to many clichéd lines and Joely Richardson’s sole purpose is to act like she doesn’t care about her daughter as much as Arnie, as evidence of the father and daughters stronger bond.
Despite Arnie proving that he can rock the indie circuit, Maggie is a tired film from a dying genre.