World War Z stands out from standard Summer blockbuster fare in that it doesn’t simply jump from set piece to set piece in the hopes that the audience will forget what a story is.
That’s not to say World War Z has a tremendously compelling story, but it does have the right elements to make it a successful Summer flick: high stakes, clearly outlined objectives, and an awareness of its own flashy destruction.
Despite what it may have seemed from the trailer, scores of people don’t die in World War Z simply because it looks cool.
They die because the story requires that they die. Compare that with your Star Trek Into Darknesses and your Man of Steels, and this film is already ahead.
The (somewhat controversial, if you’ve been following the production’s history) ending furthers that point, in a way that I actually find quite refreshing given the mass, unaddressed destruction that seems to be a requisite part of every action movie of late.
But, let’s start with the opening.
The opening set piece is actually exceptionally suspenseful and thrilling. Even if you enter the theater with some knowledge of the story, it is hard not to find yourself tossed directly into the confusion and mass hysteria surrounding the story’s incitement.
We see Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane as a man who knows how to take care of his family, and who can navigate any stressful situation with ease.
This ultimately becomes a detriment, however, as Lane seems to be sleep-walking through the most important job any man has ever held in the history of humanity (which also makes us wonder: why him? Is he really the absolute best man for this job?).
Lane is a former U.N. employee who, after being rescued with his family from the quickly-spreading disease in Newark, is tasked with scouring the earth seeking a cure for a zombie outbreak that is quickly overtaking the entire planet.
As part of his charge, he must leave his wife and children, and a boy they picked up along the way, behind on a military aircraft carrier acting as a safe haven.
Lane refuses to go, until it is explained to him that if he makes himself unessential, his family will have to leave the ship.
While this is a fine back-story for the character, it ultimately feels tacked on as a last-ditch effort to allow the audience connect to Lane. He is very quiet, very inconspicuous, very calculated, for the hero of a horror/thriller.
After traveling to two cities deemed important in the collection of information, Lane is no closer to finding a cure. Only while fleeing Jerusalem does he get an idea.
Lane’s proposed solution is interesting, but it doesn’t feel exactly like a puzzle that the audience was allowed to solve along with the character. This only adds to the disappointingly introspective nature of our hero.
All that said, though, World War Z is full of thrills and suspense. It doesn’t try too hard to be deep, and at the same time it doesn’t throw away all sense of plot in favor of shoving explosions down your throat.
It is clean in its choices. Whereas most modern blockbusters get bogged down in overcomplicated plotlines, World War Z is decidedly simple. And that makes it easier to sit back and enjoy.
None of the performances were particularly noteworthy, but that should be expected from a film of this caliber.
For a suspenseful, thrilling movie-going experience with its share of jumps, World War Z will do just fine.