World War Z

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 20 Jun 2013
  • World War Z
Film title: World War Z
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins, David Morse, Peter Capaldi, James Badge Dale, Fana Mokoena
Release date: 21 Jun
Certificate: 15

World War Z is based on Max Brooks’ bestselling novel of the same name, a globe-trotting, multi-perspective document of a zombie apocalypse, rife with parables and satire. For the long-gestating film adaptation, the globe-trotting is at least retained but the story narrows its point of view and focuses in on former UN worker Gerry Lane (Pitt). Escaping an outbreak in Philadelphia (played by hot young star Glasgow), Gerry is forced to assist in finding a solution to the global pandemic, on the condition that his family be kept safe by the military. Cue trips to South Korea, Israel and Wales, among others, and a host of brief encounters with familiar faces in small parts heavy on exposition (Morse and Capaldi to name two).

Forster directed the very poor Bond effort Quantum of Solace, and World War Z’s large-scale action sequences unfortunately retain that film’s major problems. Its rapid, messily assembled editing is combined with oft-appalling sense of spatial coherence. The result is not pulsating tension in clearly depicted locations and scenarios, but instead repetitive montages of weightless CGI blurs and quick close-ups. The film aims for kinetic thrills but mostly invokes tedium.

Boredom is also invoked through Pitt’s perpetually disinterested performance, though bland, flaw-free Gerry is hardly the most interesting or engaging character as written. Much has been publicised about major third act tinkering, but this rewritten section - a low-key trip to a plagued research facility - is, in fact, the best stretch of the film. None of the story that precedes feels like it has logically led to it, but the camera finally gets held still, the cutting becomes less rapid, and there’s some genuine tension. Like the rest of the film, it’s disinterested in ideas, but the last third is pretty solid, if generic, zombie horror; it’s unfortunately just stuck in a clunky mess of an attempted blockbuster.