THE first thing that viewers will think of is Arnold Schwarzenegger battling and battering zombies.
In fact, he kills only one nasty zombie, and whacks two more harmless ones in a forest. That makes it a pretty low and lame body count by The Terminator's standard.
Arnie realises that blowing people to bits, like in his 1980s' action films, doesn't cut it anymore. So, he has branched out into serious dramas, like director Henry Hobson's Maggie.
Arnie may have thought that this meandering film, about a virus that turns humans into cannibalistic zombies, would give him a chance to emote and express his deepest feelings.
Dear viewers, you ought to give him credit for wanting to show his softer side. You can feel his sincerity in wanting to protect his infected daughter from the grubby hands of the authorities.
Shot in an austere blue-and-gray tint, with many close-ups of the actors' faces and hands, Maggie trundles along at a slow pace, showing the extent to which parents and families go to keep their loved ones close to them.
The film asks whether people can a) surrender terminally ill loved one to the authorities, b), keep them close to you until their last breath, or c) do the deed yourself, similar to what people do to animals that are badly injured.
A virus that destroys cops has also infected humans, with an incubation period of six to eight weeks before they transform into full-blown zombies. In the meantime, the soon-to-be zombies lose their appetite, get ghastly veins on their faces and eventually become cannibals.
Maggie (Abigal Breslin), also called Daisy, runs away from home but is soon bitten and becomes infected. There's no mention why she ran away.
Farmer dad Wade (Arnie) brings her back to their Catholic home, where wife Caroline (Joely Richardson) tends to it with their two biological kids. Maggie is Wade's daughter from his first marriage, which ended some time ago when his wife died.
Caroline, who sports a crucifix, eggs Wade to send Maggie to quarantine before the rest of the family becomes infected or before she endangers them.
Breslin does a good job to show Maggie descending into a spiral of despair, knowing that certain death awaits her.
You could call Arnie's performance lumbering, what his weathered face and receding hairline, but his Wade is willing to go to great lengths to keep his daughter near him, even to the extent of defying the authorities and getting into a fight with a sheriff's deputy.
2 out of 5 stars