Marc Foster's "World War Z" is a Zombie apocalypse movie. Yet another movie on a flesh-chomping pandemic? Yeah, but the film never lacks on originality. That's a great trait for a summer block-buster. The Zombies, here are also very different. The virus works faster -- it takes only 12 seconds for an infected human to turn into a twisted, soulless creature with a ravenous need to hunt down healthy flesh. The Zombies moan and prowl at first but later runs as fast, as if they are in a sprint race.
"World War Z" (loosely based on Max Brook's novel) was produced by Brad Pitt for $200 million. It also went through a tremendous amount of rewriting and production delays. The script was written at first by Michael Carnahan ("State of Play") and then there were many 11th hour rewrites by Lost’s Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof. All these revisions dispense any lofty aspirations of political allegory or genre satire. This is a star-driven action picture and makes us watch in awe as Jerusalem's walls are breached by mass of soulless yet still somehow mobile human bodies.
The film starts with usual warnings that things are going awry: news reports of dead dolphins and roving mobs. Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a retired U.N. disaster specialist drives his wife Karen (Mireille Enos) and two daughters (Sterling Jerins and Abigail Hargrove). They are stuck in traffic in downtown Philadelphia, where suddenly the street erupts. People are running terrified from shrieking creatures who smash their heads through car windows and start bite at the people inside. By now we know the routine -- individuality completely replaced by ravenous will of the virus that infects them.
Gerry manages to get his family out of the chaos and is rescued by Under-Secretary-General of the U.N. (Fana Mokoema) -- a former colleague of Gerry's. He thinks Gerry can deal with this problem and gives him an offer which he can't refuse. He has to keep company with a virologist to search for the first victim in order to find the cause of the outbreak and then a cure. An unfortunate accident happens in South Korea, which sets him off in the direction of Jerusalem and, eventually, to a World Health Organization facility in Wales. He also attains a potential sidekick -- the fearless female Israeli soldier (Daniella Kertesz).
Brad Pitt has evolved greatly as an actor who's worth watching for his screen presence. He turns casualness into an potent style. He is a thinking action hero and perfects his role as the only person on earth capable of reasoning his way out of the zombie crisis. Mireille Enos has nothing to do except redialing her husband’s cellphone number and weep quietly. There's also a good amount of interesting supporting actors -- David Morse, Peter Capaldi, Ruth Negga, Moritz Bleibtreu -- from South Korea to Wales.
Director Marc Foster ("Monster's Ball", "Finding Neverland", "Kite Runner") wasn't much of a film-maker when it comes to staging big-budget action. His foray into action with a 007 movie ("Quantum of Solace") was a botched attempt. But, with "World War Z", he has perfectly choreographed chaos. He builds suspense in an old-fashioned manner, yet there is lot of visual invention -- assaulting the wall from the outside, the Zombies racing down the narrow ancient passageways, like water bursting from a dam.
The script rewrites has worked in favor of the movie, although there is a rushed and muted finale. We briefly glimpse at many countries abandoned to the undead hordes, but the script makes clear that these are parts of a larger story that’s been trimmed for the sake of expediency. The script never hints at the origin of virus and it's also not mournful because this isn't about a world being destroyed but one that's trying to start back up -- there's no end of the world vibe. The 3D is good enough at places, especially when the Zombies leaps out of the screen.
"World War Z" isn't an R-rated scary Zombie movie. It is a cool, good popcorn fare which moves at a breakneck pace, just like the Zombies.
World War Z -- IMDb