World War Z

I thought: I’ll watch it. It’s Brad Pitt: how bad could it be?
Well, we open on a beautiful family moment, played way too broadly. One daughter has asthma. Dad (Brad) is making pancakes; which bye-the-bye is every husband’s ambition. Next we see them in their Volvo (naturellement) driving on Broad Street in Philadelphia toward City Hall. My guess is that they’re right around South Street (maybe Spruce), when a disturbance begins. They are mystified. Dad tells them to stay in the car. The backstory is that Brad/Dad has worked for the U.N. in places where others fear to go. He’s an expert at managing chaos, and still has strong ties to the very top of the U.N. Whatever has been going on, no one has called him, IM’d him or tweeted about it. Unlikely at best, but we need him to be as mystified as the rest of the mob. They end up leaving the safety of the car because it’s clear it’s no longer safe, but in the rush, Mom (Mireille Enos) forgets her purse and the inhaler. The other daughter is a wandering screamer/cryer/panicker. By the age of six, this kid should know a thing or two, as in: don’t let your parents out of your sight. As they near City Hall, they spot an abandoned RV and head for it (that’s the first smart thing they did). As an aside, Jerry spots a man in the process of turning and notices that it takes 12 seconds to complete zombification, at which point the victim jumps up and starts running to bite and infect the next person. These zombies are faster than people can run, more agile, and indefatigable.
Somehow, in the midst of a huge traffic jam, they manage to get out of the city and on some two lane highway headed north. By then, Dad has received a phone call from Thierry, the guy in charge of chaos at the U.N. “I really need you on this one, Jerry.” We’ll pick you up.
On the way north, cue the asthma attack. They stop and he turns off the fucking engine to deal with it. Why is his wife helpless? She can’t get it started. They stop at a store which is not yet overrun with zombies. Dad heads with the asthma daughter to the pharmacy and scores some clenbuterol. Mom puts the little one in a shopping cart. Next thing you know, the kid is rolling through the aisles screaming. Where’s Mom you ask? Also screaming. Cue manly rescue.
The RV is gone when they emerge (they probably left the keys in it). Oh, and now there are guns. Yes, that will work.
They see a promising high rise because they need it for the helicopter. Suddenly they are pursued and running. Screamer daughter gets lost and screams. They double back to get her. Miraculously, a door opens and they find shelter with two parents and a boy. Food and a night’s sleep. They say come with us – no.
When the helicopter is on its way, they run toward the roof, zombies in outrageously fast pursuit. Dad gets spittle on his face. The copter is coming, troops shoot some zombies. They just make it, even as zombies jump off the roof to try to the catch the landing gear. Wow. Dad in the meantime, has run to the building edge because of the spittle thing and is counting to 12. If he’s infected, he’s going to jump. But you didn’t really think that was going to happen to Brad Pitt, did you? Also, the boy has joined them and it seems the parents elected to stay put and get zombied.
Next act: They land on an aircraft carrier, teeming with busy people. Jerry says he got out of this business ’cause it was killing him. The general (played by David Adams) says Dude, there’s no room here for anyone who isn’t essential. i.e., we’ll pack your family off to get infected if you don’t play.
What I find amazing here is that Jerry even thinks that’s a possibility. The scale of this disaster is manifest, and he’s electing to stay out of it? Hunh? And he’s Brad Pitt: that’s the entire reason he’s in the movie. And his wife (who can only smile wanly) is against it too. Hunh? Does she want her daughters to have any future? So he goes off the South Korea which is their first guess for patient zero, equipped with two world phones and I’ll call you at specific intervals to tell you I’m alive.
Long flight to South Korea. They’ve got a whiz-kid Harvard guy on board to help with figuring it out. He promptly dies when they land by slipping on a ramp. Why did they bother?
Next, we get David Morse talking about stuff, to no apparent advance in the story-line. They have to get somewhere via bicycle through an infected zone. Naturally the wife calls him on the phone while they’re bicycling and since sound attracts the zombies, they’re under attack. Did she not think it might be dangerous to just call him? She couldn’t wait?
They barely get out of South Korea alive and head for Israel (Jerusalem) on some wild notion that somebody there saw the whole thing coming and built massive walls to protect the city. My first thought was: walls won’t do shit for you.
So they have a scholarly conversation with someone and Jerry’s assigned a protection detail. They visit the wall which is truly impressive. How long did it take them to build a wall to completely enclose the city?
There’s a crowd near the wall: they start singing and making noise. In no time, there is a wave of zombies climbing on top of each other and of course they’re over the wall in minutes. Never mind that this is physically impossible. The CGI’s are impressive. Panic ensues. As he runs, Jerry notices that zombies completely ignore certain people, who are infirm or clearly ill. Hmmm. They head for the airport to catch the last train to Clarksville. In the melee, his female guard is bitten on the left hand (and it’s a good thing too). Jerry amputates the hand before the germ can spread (12 seconds) and saves her life. Luckily, she’s a very good shot with her right hand. That last plane out just barely makes it, except there is some banging coming from a bathroom. No worries. The plane is headed for Ireland, the site of a Whirled Health Organization laboratory. Everyone except for a stewardess ignores the banging from the lavatory, and of course, no one has to use it during a flight from Jerusalem to Dublin. Until you-know-what happens right over Ireland. And then, Jerry straps himself and the female guard into their seats, blows a hole in the fuselage and the plane crashes right outside the WHO facility. He and the guard are the only apparent survivors and hobble to the doors of the facility. Oh, by now, the battery has died on his world phone. The folks on the carrier think he’s dead and send the wife and kids off to a facility in Nova Scotia. Talk about ungrateful.
So they identify and the gates open. There is a remnant of scientists locked off in a lab, and they’re completely mystified, fresh out of theories. Brad says: don’t you have every nasty germ that ever was stored here somewhere? Yes, but it’s in a lab that’s overrun with ZOMBIES. Well, I think that the zombie germ avoids sick people and the zombies can tell instantly if someone is sick. Therefore, if a person is infected with something awful (but curable), it will afford at least temporary protection.
Then we get lots of running around, sneaking, being VEWWY VEWWY Quiet until they reach the lab. The other two run back to the safety of the first lab, leaving Brad alone in the lab, wondering which vial has which disease and what does he want to inject himself with? There is a one way camera so that the first lab can see him (and so can we), but can’t tell him which vial to use. Fortunately, being Brad Pitt, he chooses wisely. The best part of the movie, for my money, is his face time with a zombie who does a nifty teeth chattering things (two or three times). It’s clear that his theory is correct. The zombie can’t even see him. He walks back to the first lab, to the admiration of all concerned.
The film closes with the reunion with his family. Yay.

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