It is a testament to the genius of the late George A. Romero that while many filmmakers of the early 2000s were pondering whether zombies could run, Romero asked if they could grow class consciousness. For the undead in Romero's 2005 Land of the Dead, brain-eating comes second fiddle to seizing the tools of their former working lives, like gas pumps and jackhammers, and turning them into weapons against the rich.
Those rich live inside a heavily militarized post-apocalyptic Pittsburgh run by a megalomaniacal, nose-picking Dennis Hopper — channeling then president George W. Bush, but coming across more like Donald Trump — who lords over the city from his luxury glass skyscraper, gloating over his power to build walls and dispose of anyone who incurs his disfavor. Shit hits the fan when a disgruntled mercenary bitter at the lack of economic mobility, Cholo (John Leguizamo), steals some missiles and decides to hold the city hostage. "I don't negotiate with terrorists!" Hopper yells, choosing to send rival merc Riley (Simon Baker) on a manhunt to protect his business interests instead. All this militaristic bickering is for naught however, as unbeknownst to them the real threat lies with the zombified masses learning how to organize.
Rife with B-movie cliches (think ladies with guns lamenting troubled pasts) and ham-fisted one-liners ("Why are we standing around? Let's do something."), Land of the Dead may be one of the most fully realized, authentic genre exercises of the past 20 years. Liberal with its gore and leftist in its politics, Land is a fitting late highlight to a career with few blemishes, and the perfect post-9/11 horror film to contemplate our current political nightmare.