World War Z

Film Title: World War Z

Director: Marc Forster

Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 116 min

Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 00:00


You know how it is. One day you’re sitting at home, recently retired from an ill-defined action hero role at the United Nations, cleaning up after the wife and kids. All of a sudden there’s a full-scale freaking zombie invasion to contend with. No one will ever get the pancake mix off the saucepans now.

It gets worse: the UN want you back as a frontline badass. But you’re Brad Pitt. Why should you work like a regular schmuck? Oh, wait. Of course. You’ll head out to Korea (then Israel, then, erm, Wales) in order to save the wife (Mireille Eros) and kids from the encroaching zombie apocalypse.

There was no reason to suppose that the perfectly diverting World War Z would be up to much. The source material – Max Brooks’s 2006 novel – may have ignited a six-figure bidding war between studios and a second bidding contest between rival production companies headed up by Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. That, however, was before anyone had figured out how to translate Brooks’s unconnected series of “oral” testimonies into a solid movie shape.

Unsurprisingly, Marc Forster’s film has been subject to multiple delays and rewrites since it “went into production” in 2009. And even less surprisingly, the first promotional trailers revealed hordes of dreadfully unconvincing CG zombies.

Sure enough, throughout the finished picture there’s evidence of shoddy makeweight writing left behind by the many screenwriters (Prometheus’ Damien Lindelof, Lost’s Drew Goddard, Lions for Lambs’ Michael Carnahan). MireiEros’s role is so sketchy it’s a miracle we can see her at all. Likewise, the kids are merely parachuted in to give Brad something to fight for. A subplot concerning the family’s bunkbeds on an Atlantic base seemingly peters away, having failed to hold our attention in the first place.

The film’s grandiose ideas about intellectualising the zombie movie may come to nothing – and at any rate, didn’t George Romero already make those films? Yet World War Z does belt merrily along as an action thriller.

It’s not clever but it is big.