Directed by Henry Hobson
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, Laura Cayouette and J.D. Evermore
There's a deadly zombie epidemic threatening humanity, but Wade, a small-town farmer and family man, refuses to accept defeat even when his daughter Maggie becomes infected. As Maggie's condition worsens and the authorities seek to eradicate those with the virus, Wade is pushed to the limits in an effort to protect her. Joely Richardson co-stars in this post-apocalyptic thriller.
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★★★★ review by Wesley R. Ball on Letterboxd
Dad, you've protected me all your life. Now it's my turn to protect you. There is life with you, not with me. Don't come looking for me. I'm safe. I'm fine.
For all of the people who have bashed this film left and right for being so preposterously slow and boring, I've got four words for you: "The Last of Us." The Last of Us is one of the highest rated and best-selling games on the PlayStation 3 console, and it is almost as slow and methodical as this brilliant piece of a character study is. So why do so many people dislike Maggie, and yet universally agree that The Last of Us is one of the greatest games of the last generation? Because they like to be part of the story. When you go to see a movie with Arnold Scwarzenegger in it, the average moviegoer may expect to see a considerable amount of action and violence. Not so in Maggie's case. Here, Arnold isn't an indestructible robot sent from the future, he isn't a daddy hell-bent on rescuing his daughter, he isn't a covert CIA agent. He's just Arnold. A regular, aging man with a wife and children of his own. And he is emotionally devastated that his daughter is suffering from the infectious virus turning the planet's population into mindless, brain-eating zombies. He is determined to stick with his daughter (a superb performance from Abigail Breslin) to the end, with a sliver of hope that she will recover.
I admit being partial to the zombie genre as a whole. I'm always slightly attracted to the new Call of Duty games only for the zombie modes, and Dying Light and TLoU are incredibly fun to play. There are many other zombie games I've played and enjoyed as well, and I'm always on the lookout for new experiences in the genre. Films like World War Z and Warm Bodies are excellent takes on the zombie genre, and I love seeing fresh new ideas on the medium. Maggie takes this idea to a whole other realm, choosing to focus on the slow, decaying process of turning from a conscious human into a violent, helpless zombie. The transformation isn't instantaneous, and it definitely isn't as psychotically terrifying as most other films make it out to be. The zombie transformation takes its own psychological toll on the victims, giving them mental breakdowns over knowing what is inevitably going to happen to them and/or their families. Maggie herself does her best to fight the infection, and tries to apply her own home remedies to slow the infection herself. All to buy her some more precious moments with Daddy Governator.
The movie actually focuses a lot more on the titular character rather than her final relationship moments with her father. Arnold isn't on screen a lot, but when he is his performance is amazing. For once, he is allowed to flex his thespian muscles to reach far beyond his stereotypical "tough guy" demeanor and show a real human character to the audience. If the Academy were somewhat different, I may have been inclined to say that his performance was Oscar-worthy. Alas, I know all too well that they wouldn't even begin to consider him for a nomination (despite nominating Dark of the Moon for its own unremarkable technical achievements). Maggie's own character arc is so well developed in this film, I was really blown away by how much detail the writers chose to put into her. Granted, there are quite a few plot issues that may distract other viewers from enjoying the full experience here, but Arnold's performance alone, mixed with my insatiable love for the zombie genre, make this film so incredible to me.
Maggie is probably going to be the most criminally underrated film of the year. Just wait and see. Arnold Scwarzenegger is too good in this film to miss, and it's simply one of the freshest takes on the zombie genre in years. Taking a horror-induced, often action-packed genre and turning it into a unique character study really takes some kind of incredible talent, and yet the writers somehow managed to pull it off here. I can understand why some viewers may be disappointed in this film, but if you're a huge fan of The Last of Us, I would be shocked if you didn't at least like this film. They're both strikingly similar, yet so different in their stories. Yes, The Last of Us is better in general, but that doesn't make this film any less great. It's a unique character study that does a tremendous job at putting its own special mark on the zombie genre, complete with two compelling performances from its two principal stars. A side of Arnold you've never seen before, and one that I really want to see again sometime soon.
★★★★ review by Christina on Letterboxd
Anticipating the release of Maggie and finally getting to watch it after hearing mixed reviews, I'm happy to say that it was better than I had hoped!
Watching Arnold play a role that wasn't about him jacked up and ready to kill and instead seeing a more vulnerable side of him was pleasant to watch. Maggie has its moments of being very slow, it's not your typical zombie flick! There's hardly any gore, hardly any limbs flying across the floor or any fast movement when they bite into some flesh. This film depends on the emotional impact through the eyes of a society that has quarantine zones for the infected, rules and regulations to follow. A story about a father and daughter trying to cope with the fact that a daughter is indeed a zombie or soon-to-be.
For being a debut film, I found it incredibly smart and beautiful to watch, with a grey tone that carries throughout the film like a depressing day for someone about lose everything. One of the most emotional zombie drama flicks I've seen, awesome.
★★★½ review by Blain LaMotta on Letterboxd
Maggie is an involving if oppressively one-note zombie picture, that while rough around the edges at times, has a powerful, emotional throughline with its central relationship between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin. Arnold delivers a performance of great subtlety as Wade. I wasn't sure that he could act without any sense of irony going in, but to my surprise, he pulls it off. It honestly shocked me that he could conjure up this kind of restraint. Abigail Breslin gets to show off her tremendous range as her character of Maggie is infected and will eventually turn. Their relationship is believable and genuinely sweet. This is not an action packed thrill ride, so if you are expecting that...well, don't. The pace is slow and steady. It spins its wheels a tad as it approaches the finish however. Even with this though, I felt invested in the events depicted. The ending was curiously unexpected. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first. After contemplation on that matter, it was the only way it could have ended. Usually in an Arnold picture, violence is treated like a joke. In Maggie, the absence of violence is a relief. Compassion is much more favorable. A welcome change.
★★★½ review by Silent J on Letterboxd
The zombie genre has gained notoriety in the past decade. Much like the superhero genre, a genre that also was seen and treated as nothing but simple mindless entertainment until recently, we've seen films and tv series take a more serious approach with the genre by creating critically acclaimed dramas like The Walking Dead for instance. The latest zombie movie that departs from the traditional "run, hide, and shoot" zombie films of old and towards the well thought out zombie dramas of new is Maggie.
Maggie surprisingly stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a father who must watch as his daughter (Abigail Breslin) succumbs to her zombie infection in a world where zombie outbreaks are real and medically treated. His only options are to have her quarantined or killed.
Back in the day, a Schwarzenegger film with a synopsis like this attached to it could only mean this would be another slam-bang action flick that we'd be used to seeing from him. I assure you that this is definitely not the case as this whole film plays out like a low-key drama. The story is handled sincerely for a zombie film and the emotions feel genuine. With somber atmosphere at the helm, it's hard not to feel this film pulling at your heartstrings. It actually works a lot better at generating that kind of emotion than your usual run of the mill drama. Would you believe me if I said Schwarzenegger was the main reason for it?
Schwarzenegger gets a lot of flack for giving very, for lack of a better word, "exaggerated" performances in the majority of his movies. What people seem to forget is that Arnie has proven in a select few movies that he's capable of giving a good, competent performance. However, Maggie is probably his most demanding role to date and thankfully, he brings plenty to the table. Despite his towering, otherworldly stature, he comes off as a real person you can relate to. When you see the sheer pain, grief, and anguish in his eyes, you just have to feel bad for him with the dilemma he has to deal with. The rest of the cast do just fine in their roles, but Schwarzenegger, believe it or not, is a surprising standout. He is what makes the father/daughter dynamic work so well.
Unfortunately, it seems as though that the father/daughter dynamic is the only thing that works. The father/daughter dynamic is a powerful one thanks to solid chemistry between Breslin and Schwarzenegger as well as the heartbreaking story that we see their characters go through. In scenes where that dynamic isn't the focus, like when it's just Breslin with her friends on screen sharing dialogue, I found myself losing interest fast. The father/daughter dynamic is easily the heart of the film and when it's not front and center, the film just barely stands on its legs.
With that in mind, this is still a solid film. It's a zombie film with a surprising amount of heart and sincerity, but if you're only interested in seeing Schwarzenegger give a legitimate acting performance, then seeing him exceed expectations on screen is reason enough to watch this.
★★★½ review by Connor Carey on Letterboxd
While slow paced and predictable, Maggie is still a rock solid drama thanks to the beautiful cinematography, great score and the fantastic performances from Abigail Breslin and especially Arnold Schwarzenegger.
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