Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012)
Direected by Matthias Hoene
When construction workers in the Docklands uncover a secret medieval tomb buried within the soil of their worksite, they accidentally unleash a zombie plague on East London. At the same time, brothers Terry (Hardiker) and Andy (Treadaway) are leading a heist on the local bank in order to obtain enough money to save their grandfather’s retirement home from demolition. When the heist goes wrong and the police have surrounded the building, the brothers and their gang emerge from the bank ready for a shootout – only to be greeted by hordes of the undead!
From there, it’s a laugh-laden race for the gang to get to safety, regroup, rearm, and head to the old folks’ home to save their grandpa (the ever-excellent Alan Ford) and his fellow retirees.
From the outset, Cockneys vs. Zombies is a likable, lighthearted romp populated with colourful characters and Cockney geezers galore. Director Hoene keeps the pace brisk and punchy, with repeated cutaways to quick comedic skits proving some of the best moments in terms of punchline delivery (grandfather Ray’s activity during World War II is a particularly excellent gut-buster early on). While leads Hardiker and Treadaway play off of each other sufficiently well to convince of their brotherly relationship, the two are outshone by the supporting cast at nearly every opportunity. Ashley “Bashy” Thomas is fabulous as the compulsively violent and unhinged “Mental” Mickey, whose particular physical "enhancement" leads to a very well staged and original set piece later on.
The best scenes of all are to be found at the retirement home itself, featuring colourful banter between aging gangsters and some of the funniest Cockney Rhyming Slang ever conceived. When the zombies show up, the laughs come thick and fast at the home, including a frankly wonderful chase scene involving a few hungry zombies and an elderly gentleman confined to a Zimmer frame.
Outside of the retirement home, the younger cast find themselves holed up at an abandoned warehouse. Here, cracks begin to show in Hoene’s pacing, and the script similarly struggles to keep things moving in any particularly meaningful direction, resulting in Cockneys vs. Zombies spinning its wheels for a good fifteen to twenty minutes. The inevitability of this becomes quite obvious by the finale, where the basic “get from A to B via C” nature of the film’s narrative fully settles in. It’s merely a playground for the characters, but when the protagonists are less endearing than they ought to be for such an exercise, it feels somewhat more meandering than riveting.
Regardless, Cockneys vs. Zombies remains a fun romp with some surprisingly gory moments (including an impressive, all-practical “Rhodes”-style dismemberment), some of which are unfortunately marred by unconvincing low-rent CGI blood and gunfire. A rather uninspired ending leaves things on a sour note, but the film packs in more than enough laughs and pure entertainment to make it worthwhile. Serving up shotgun dismemberment, old people letting rip with Uzis, zombie babies, the world’s first rival zombie football firm street clash, snappy dialogue, distinctly British wit and an overall sense of fun, Cockneys vs. Zombies is well the watch but unfortunately falls short of the “instant cult classic” status it so sorely strives for.
3 1/2 out of 5