Thursday, June 20, 2013
World War Z
WORLD WAR Z: Brad Pitt, Marielle Enos, directed by Marc Forster (116 min.)
It’s never a good sign when a film is mired in all sorts of production chaos rumors, from bloated budgets to on-set feuds to re-shoots and edits and delays and just collectively bad vibes. There is, more often than not, fire beneath that smoke. But if there were a film that could overcome such nasty rumors, I would have placed my bets on World War Z. After all, it stars Brad Pitt, is produced by his own company, Plan B, and has some thrilling advertisements. Pitt hits more often than he misses, and my faith was in his corner. I know this all sounds like a set up to say World War Z is terrible, but I’m not saying that exactly. It isn’t terrible. It just isn’t very good. Remember when you r mother would tell you “I’m not mad, just disappointed?” It feels a little like that.
On the aircraft carrier, Gerry is so well respected by his former peers they threaten to ship him and his family back to smoldering Philly if Gerry doesn’t agree to escort a Harvard scientist to South Korea to try to uncover “Patient Zero.” Naturally Gerry agrees without much anger or resentment or, really, without much emotion whatsoever. When the lead predictably fizzles out in South Korea Gerry becomes a globetrotter, hopping to Jerusalem and Wales to try and figure out a cure. Along the way he crosses paths with a few different characters, none of which are very interesting outside of a female Israeli soldier (Daniella Kertesz) who becomes his sidekick of sorts. Gerry also has to fight off his fair share of zombie attacks, some thrilling and others a little corny.
In between a handful of action scenes, World War Z tries and fails to create an emotional thread. Gerry’s family becomes window dressing after the opening scenes, sitting and waiting on the aircraft carrier without anything to do or to say really. And Pitt’s performance is incredibly withdrawn and flat. He looks bored, or maybe just not into the whole thing. Those rumors that he and Marc Forster butted heads consistently on set might be leaking out into his distance on screen. That is a major issue considering that not one other character in a film about a global epidemic is fleshed out in the slightest. If Pitt is in charge of carrying this whole thing, then perhaps World War Z was doomed from the start.
Which leads me, once again, to the re-writes and chaos behind the scenes. Pitt was originally attracted to the project because of the geopolitical angles of the celebrated Max Brooks novel. The book deals with a whole slew of characters across the globe and their various struggles. Then, everything was chopped up and spit out and re-done to a point where the globetrotting in this film feels forced and rushed. And that ending, that third act, goodness gracious. What a flat and uninteresting wrap up to a film that leaves open the opportunity for a sequel. But I don’t think we need a sequel here, I think we should all go home and watch 28 Days Later instead.