Max Brooks’ brilliant zombie apocalypse novel has been crunched into an action movie template, given a tremendous blockbuster gloss and lit with Brad Pitt’s star wattage.
There is little humour and not much sentimentality but the performances full of conviction and provide an anchor for the action.
It keeps the real world sense of the book while shedding its multi-storied narrative.
Pitt remains a charismatic screen presence but beyond generic action man qualities, no great acting range is required of him.
He plays Gerry Lane, a UN investigator on a mission to save what’s left of the human race after a sudden, devastating zombie attack.
No one knows where or how the zombie pandemic originated but the globe’s cities are abandoned after the lightning fast and murderous onslaught of the undead.
Leaving his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and daughters Connie (Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) in the supposed safety of a US aircraft carrier, Lane flies around the world looking for a cure for what is assumed to be a virus.
Moving swiftly from the US to South Korea, Israel and Wales, the blockbuster’s action sequences keep tumbling over one another like the many frenzied zombies at the walls of Jerusalem. That is one of the many thrilling sequences that are tense, violent and guaranteed to make you jump.
With much twitching, convulsing and moaning, the teeth-knocking monsters operate at two speeds: in the absence of prey they are in a moaning and shuffling semi-hibernation. When they attack they become a scary, swirling, swarm of flesh-hungry predators.
Some smart dialogue is scattered among the skin-crawling sound effects. This helps generate tension by hijacking your imagination to do the film’s dirty work for it.
Among the helicopters, transport planes and aircraft carriers, it unusually features soldiers who can shoot straight. Plus it presents sidekicks to provide fresh meat so we’re never sure who will survive.
Driven with a frantic energy and technical prowess, World War Z is is a exciting action adventure.
Though it’s preposterous by nature, the conviction of the players keep the spectacle grounded.
The plot holes widen alarmingly as the film struggles to conclude and though it struggles to maintain its ferocious pace, Z still keeps you interested until its surprisingly low-key ending.