World War Z movie review: Zombies in the zeitgeist
This must-see apocalyptic action thriller starring Brad Pitt zings with visceral terror in 3D and strikes a frightening chord in our global environment.
World War Z opens with a montage of disturbing news events — most display doom and gloom images like dead dolphins, environmental catastrophes and wild carnivores devouring their prey. We are immediately thrust into an intense visual landscape that sets up the dark, dystopian tone for this tale of apocalyptic proportions.
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a former United Nations investigator who’s quit his dangerous job to be a family man. He and his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and their two daughters are driving through the streets of Philadelphia on what seems like an average day. Within moments, the entire city descends into chaos.
Hoards of mysteriously infected humans begin attacking one another like a swarm of rabid beasts. Somehow, an unknown virus has morphed into a human plague and no one across the globe is safe.
Gerry uses his U.N. connections to flee the dangerous city and takes his family to safety aboard an aircraft carrier 200 miles off the Atlantic coast. Former boss Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena) makes a deal with Gerry: Thierry will keep his family safe on the carrier if Gerry agrees to search for the origins of this massive infection.
Gerry’s plan is to find "patient zero," the first human infected with this zombie-creating virus for clues to help create a vaccine. This search has him country-hopping with Navy SEALs and fighting off creepily choreographed zombies every step of the way.
The genius of this movie is that every aspect is taken very seriously. The filmmakers looked at the way the human body moves when it undergoes an epileptic seizure to inspire the weird, jerky convulsions seen in the zombies. They also give the film a sense of epic doom by making it a global crisis, shooting in several countries and instilling the feeling of a true apocalypse.
Beyond the stunning visuals that use sweeping wide shots, seemingly inspired by the gruesome paintings of Bruegel, the zombie metaphor is poignantly executed. Much of our world currently feels like its brain-dead, from nations who use chemical weapons on their own citizens to a gridlocked US Congress to highways where drivers perilously text instead of focusing on the road. It’s as if World War Z is screaming, "Humans! Wake up, before it's too late!"