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USA 2013
Directed by
Marc Forster
116 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

World War Z

Synopsis: Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) races around the world in race to stop a zombie pandemic that is threatening to destroy humanity.

World War Z is Hollywood studio product. Not the worst thing you might see but nevertheless templated B grade material given big budget treatment, swinging from sentimentality to Sturm und Drang with not the remotest shred of credibility.  Director Forster (who helmed the 2008 Bond film Quantum of Solace), assisted by a thumping score from Marco Beltrami, vainly tries to cover up the triteness of the narrative with lots of CGI, darkly-lit action sequences and rapid editing in a film which appears to be an attempt by co-producer and lead actor Pitt to take on Tom Cruise as an action figure.

Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a stay-at-home Dad who must save his family when a mysterious virus breaks out turning everyone into ravening zombies. Fortunately Gerry is a retired hardcore UN field operator so within minutes of the first zombie attack he’s on his way to save the world. Don’t expect any irony here – that’s pretty much exactly what happens. Apparently the novel by Max Brooks (son of Mel) was a smart satire of American foreign policy. What we get however is a dumb action/zombie/virus mash-up based on the ever-popular theme of the nuclear-family-under-threat, spun-out according to laws of probability that exist only on Planet Hollywood.

It is pointless trying to enumerate the film’s flagrant disregard of logic but my favourite is Gerry’s female Israeli side-kick (Daniella Kertesz) who has her lower arm hacked off by him (before  the zombie virus has time to percolate into her bloodstream) and after a bit of quick first-aid continues on as if nothing had happened. Similarly for some of the dialogue which at times is so reliant on cliché as to be almost laughable.  Well, almost...

Apparently the first cut of the film was so dire that another seven weeks of shooting took place and even this was followed by the writing and filming of an entirely new third act later in the year. They needn’t have bothered. Two hundred million dollars (the approximate budget) later and we have an empty-headed roller-coaster film that is in fact much sillier than it appears to be thanks to the high-end production values.

In recent times films such as David Mackenzie’s Perfect Sense and Steven Soderburgh’s Contagion have explored in interesting ways how we might face the real possibility of a pandemic. World War Z might be a credible response for American backwoods survivalists but that is about it. With films such  Moneyball and The Tree Of Life Pitt appeared to be maturing into an actor worth watching. Hopefully his effort here represents a momentary lapse of reason




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