In the new movie “World War Z,” Brad Pitt plays a Philadelphia family man, until recently a foreign places-traveling agent of the United Nations. He awakens one morning to discover, through TV news broadcasts, that something wild is going on around the world. Soon zombies attack a big traffic jam in the City of Brotherly Love. And the U.N.’s Deputy Secretary General calls Gerry (Pitt) to ask him to come back to work.
Gerry and his family are harbored overnight by a family of Spanish speakers. But in the morning, as the zombies attack the building, the Gerrys and the surviving son of their hosts are picked up by a helicopter and are taken to the “U.N. Command” ship.
There the Deputy Secretary General agrees to keep Gerry’s family safe if he will go with a scientist to Korea to investigate the beginning of the zombie problem—apparently guys bitten by the infected become difficult-to-kill zombies themselves within a very, very short time. So off the two investigators fly in a huge, otherwise empty cargo plane.
In Korea the scientist mistakenly shoots and kills himself. But for some reason Gerry decides to continue the mission. He hears about the first zombie and meets a group of likable military men. This is noteworthy. They are about the only likable characters in the film, and they aren’t on screen long enough to become complete people.
The soldiers tell Gerry that Israel saw the attacks coming and finished their security walls (which, in the film, encircle the little country) just in time. So he can call the Israelis for help, right? No. He decides to fly all the way across Asia to ask his two or three questions.
And he does discover the key to surviving the attacks. Charging zombies don’t go after the halt and the lame. But, riled by p.a. feed-back, the zombies scale the Israeli fences. Gerry and his companion, a little soldier whose hand he cut off after a zombie bit it, do make it onto the last flight out, a Belarus jet liner that re-routes to Cardiff where the Deputy Secretary General has arranged for Gerry to alight near a World Heath Organization research facility.
But the DSG is unable to keep Gerry’s wife and kids from being off-loaded into a concentration camp in Nova Scotia. What this has to do with the movie, I couldn’t say.
A zombie was hiding on the plane, and Gerry has to use a grenade to clear out the cabin. So the liner crash lands in Wales, luckily within walking distance of the WHO building. Gerry has a chance to try out a plan he has for using the zombies’ unwillingness to bite sick people. And we get to see Peter Capaldi who, along with John Gordon “Gregory’s Girl” Sinclair, are about the only recognizable actors in “World War Z.”
That is, besides Pitt, who one admires even though he has gotten himself into another utterly indifferent movie. Young film fans need to be told that Pitt used to be in great films: “Seven,” “Fight Club,” and two or three others.
“WWZ” is an indifferent zombie movie that warms up for the sequence in the WHO building, when it is the most like “28 Days Later” and “The Thing.” All the political nonsense about the U.N. only serves to distract, and Gerry’s flying around doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. Neither do the cut-outs to his family. Why didn’t writer and director Marc Forster (who also made the tepid “Quantum of Solace” Bond movie) make a suspense film that concentrates on suspense?
You and I can only speculate about answers for that. But we can do so without paying $3 for the mostly invisible 3D. In fact, we really don’t need to see the movie at all.