World War Z witnessed one of the most troubled productions in recent movie history. Sure, Brad Pitt’s history as a reliable producer and star probably brought more attention to this “disaster” than it warranted, but there was undeniably a lot of things in the way of this film making it to screens around the world. Third act rewrites, casting issues (it really would have been interesting to see Bryan Cranston in this film) and a counter terrorism raid on a production office were just some of the problems this film faced. Yet through all of this a solid film emerged. Nowhere are production problems evident in the final project, and while everything in this film is something we have seen before, it is ultimately an enjoyable experience.
World War Z follows Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former United Nations investigator, as he finds himself in the middle of the zombie apocalypse in Philadelphia with his family. After he is able to organize an escape for his family from his former employers he is tasked with finding “patient zero” in exchange for his family’s safety. The film is directed by Marc Forster (in his second big-budget directing gig ever after Quantum of Solace) and is written by Matthew Michael Carnahan (brother of director Joe Carnahan), Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) and Damon Lindelof (Lost).
Marc Forster has received a lot of hate in the past few years. Quantum of Solace was received with a lot of mixed thoughts upon release and bitterness towards the film has only increases since while most of the press surrounding this film’s troubled production has placed most of the blame on him. You can complain all you want about his quick-cut style of directing action, but Forster brought a sense of style and class to both Quantum of Solace and this film that ends up being one of the most memorable components of both film. This shows up in World War Z almost immediately with the artistically done opening credits sequence. Also, for those who still aren’t over Forster’s handling of the action in Quantum of Solace can rest assured that this film contains some of the best action sequences of the year (especially the escape from Philadelphia). Forster makes sure that the film keeps your adrenaline pumping, and when the film starts to seem like its getting repetitive, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof introduce a final act that fits in with the rest of the film while also bringing freshness to it.
With the film being so fast-paced though, the actors don’t get much room to breathe. Brad Pitt is a solid lead but this is more of a producing vehicle than an acting vehicle for him. James Badge Dale and David Morse are interesting, but they maybe get five minutes of screentime combined. It might actually be the actresses that come out of this film the best. Mireille Enos gets nothing special to do as Brad Pitt’s wife, but she is a talented actress who is having a big year between this, Gangster Squad, and The Killing. Meanwhile, Daniella Kertesz as an Israeli soldier is the breakout performance of the film.
World War Z offers nothing new but is done well enough to be one of the better films of the summer.