Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster have put together a fast-paced, tense and horrifying tale of humanity's survival against a fast-moving virus that turns anyone bitten into a zombie in seconds in “World War Z.”
Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a husband and father who has retired from his dangerous job with the U.N. and is enjoying spending time with his wife, Karin (Mireille Enos), and daughters Constance (Sterline Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove).
The Lane family is caught in traffic in downtown Philadelphia when things get strange. A motorcycle police officer clips the family car's side-mirror off as he zips by and Lane gets out to retrieve it. There's a loud explosion and people start running. Looking up he sees a woman jump on the hood of a car and break out the windshield using her head. She grabs the driver and he jumps out of the car to defend himself. As they fight, she bites him and he drops to the ground and is still.
An instant later, his body starts writhing and within 12 seconds his eyes change and he becomes the same type of creature who just attacked him. He attacks his family in their car.
Lane jumps back into his car and follows a runaway garbage truck to get out of the gridlock of downtown. He doesn't get far before he's in a wreck and he has to steal another car to keep moving.
In the middle of all this he gets a call from his former boss at the U.N., Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena), who will send a chopper to rescue his family if they can last the night.
He and his family get stranded in New Jersey and take refuge in an apartment with a helpful family. He offers them asylum if they want to leave, but they don't.
Zombies attack as the Lanes get to the roof, and see their ride and at the last minute, the son from the family, Tommy (Fabirzio Zacharee Guido), runs to join them.
They are taken to a U.S. Navy ship 200 miles out to sea and as his wife and children get settled, Lane talks to his former boss.
Theirry asks him to accompany a Harvard virologist to South Korea, where they believe some of the first cases appeared. It's there they hope they can find how it started and how to fight the disease. Gerry does not want to go and is adamant about it until Theirry threatens to move his family back home in the middle of the zombie riots if he does not.
During the flight, the doctor explains what he is looking for and how Mother Nature hides clues to every disease if you know where to look. It comes in handy on their arrival when they find a room full of incinerated bodies. A clue there takes them to Jerusalem, where the inhabitants curiously built a huge, high wall around their city just before the virus struck.
Lane gets more clues here and sees the total havoc the undead can do when there are tens of thousands of them on one side and prey on the other.
“World War Z” is scary on many levels. First, the rundown of how fast societies can collapse is probably accurate, as well as how people will behave when they are frightened for their own survival. The trip up a New Jersey apartment stairwell is scary enough to make you glad you've got someone to grab sitting by you in the theater, and the mindless faces with opaque eyes and snapping jaws are simply unnerving.
As more and more zombies appear, their attacks are some of the scariest ever filmed. These are not your slow, shambling, drooling zombies, these creatures are fast, vicious and brutal.
They provide Lane with nightmares every time he closes his eyes.
The pitched attacks where zombies throw themselves at walls or buildings, becoming a mass of mindless, crawling things determined to get to the top of, or through, any obstacle are truly frightening and may cause you some nightmares too.
Pitt carries this movie easily. He becomes whatever the job takes, from loving daddy to ruthless soldier who attempts to save another soldier's life when she is bitten saving him from a zombie attack. While he is the lone big name, he has surrounded himself with fine actors in all roles.
The plot ticks along like a bomb on a timer, keeping you wondering when the next attack will come or if the humans have any chance of getting out unharmed.
It's a top-notch action movie for families with older children. It may be too intense for younger children or those who are prone to dream about scary movies.
It's not often a summer blockbuster delivers more than just action, but this one has a gripping story and a new take on an old subject.
“World War Z” succeeds on all fronts.
Take a look around the theater when you're there to see this. There's a good chance I'll be there, seeing this one again.
— Sandi Davis