Running TIme: 1 hour 56 minutes
In less than two weeks after the first report of a rabies outbreak, cities around the world are being threatened by those infected—because all it takes is one bite to become infected. Former UN investigator, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), is asked to come back to his job and investigate how to stop the outbreak. He is reluctant to leave his family; however, only essential personnel will be protected, and without Lane’s help his family will be relocated to a refugee camp. Lane’s investigation leads him to South Korea, Israel and finally to Wales as he races against time to save humanity.
Having read the book by Max Brooks, I was curious to see how the filmmakers were going to make World War Z. The source material is not told in a narrative style and is instead a series of field reports that are told after the apocalypse. Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B has reported that their intent is to create a trilogy, which will allow them to include more of the points of view that can be found in the original novel.
I absolutely hate scary movies, but World War Z was just tense and creepy enough that I was willing to watch it. The movie wastes no time in getting to the action, and it keeps up the thrill factor the entire time. My blood pressure rose and never came back down. The fact that Gerry Lane is the only central character in this movie is its biggest weakness and also its biggest strength. As a weakness, we don’t get to see any other points of view, and we miss the emotional impact that strong secondary characters can bring to the story. Its strength is that Pitt is an excellent actor, and he manages to make Lane feel like a real guy—tense, scared, and anxious. Although, Pitt manages to make it out danger in just the nick of time, I found those scenes were more believable than most of the other action movies this summer.
The CGI and make-up on the zombies was excellent, they looked scary, but not overly gory. I really enjoyed the film, and I hope it becomes successful enough that they continue the trilogy. As much as I enjoyed it, it is not the kind of movie I can watch over and over again and for that reason I give it a strong B+.
Having not read the book yet I can’t comment on whether or not World War Z the film measures up to the book, but I can say that it is a gripping and suspenseful ride that manages to span the globe but also hit close to home. As Brad Pitt gets older I find there to be more and more maturity and depth to the characters he plays and UN Investigator Gerry Lane fits the bill. Gerry is forced to face a world going mad while trying to keep his wits about him so that he can unravel the clues as to where this virus came from and how we can survive it. Pitt portrays Gerry as more resolute than overtly heroic which keeps him from devolving into a cypher and keeps him real. I was also impressed by Daniella Kertesz who plays Segen, an Israeli soldier who ends up as Gerry’s traveling companion after his visit to Jerusalem becomes a disaster. Kertesz doesn’t have many lines but she does so much with what she has that she becomes an indispensable part of the movie.
I felt like the story could have used a little more meat on its bones especially in regards to the origins of the viral infection. The whole, “We’ll never know how it started, but now we know how to fight it” bow that they put on the end of the film felt lazy. Also, characters are shuttled in and out very quickly so you never get invested in anyone but Gerry and Segen. Even Mireille Enos’ character is essentially a war bride who just sits on the other end of the phone waiting for her husband to tell her he is still alive. Lastly, I think the law of diminishing returns became a factor with Pitt’s character escaping one close shave after another so often that those scenes lost a lot of their impact about two thirds of the way through and I think World War Z would have been better served to have less of that and more exposition. Ultimately I thought this movie, while flawed, was well worth the money. B-