Starting as a clever Contagion-style investigative thriller, this fiercely paced apocalyptic adventure begins to fall apart early on when smart logic is jettisoned for the more visceral thrills of seeing Brad Pitt save the planet. Sadly, almost every major plot point makes no sense at all, and by the time the film reaches its corny finale, we can no longer suspend our disbelief. But at least it's packed with exciting set pieces that get our pulses racing.
It's set in the present day, as strange unrest breaks out around the world. And when the marauding hordes of undead arrive in Philadelphia, the Lane family barely escapes with their lives. Gerry (Pitt) is a former UN military officer who gets help from an ex-boss (Mokoena) to evacuate his wife (Enos) and children to the safety of an aircraft carrier off the coast. Then he's put to work on a globe-hopping mission to find the source of the infection, travelling first to ground zero in Korea, then to infection-free Israel and finally to a World Health centre in Wales. Along the way he picks up a sidekick in the form of feisty Israeli commando Segen (Kertesz).
The script is only ever interested in Gerry, so the filmmakers never bother deepening any other characters. There's some nice chemistry between Pitt and Kertesz, but she remains essentially irrelevant. As the film goes along, Pitt assumes the responsibilities of experts, soldiers and scientists, so he can singlehandedly solve the mystery. It's utterly preposterous, especially since he has to miraculously survive frequent zombie attacks that kill everyone else. And we won't speak of a shockingly ill-conceived plane crash, which removes what's left of the plot's credibility.
Fortunately, director Forster keeps everything moving so briskly that we just hang on for the ride. Each set piece is thrillingly chaotic, as undead mobs swarm across the landscape. Camerawork is inventive and urgent, with several nerve-shredding jolts added by the otherwise pointless 3D. So it's annoying that the screenplay has been so badly botched, reducing Gerry's motivations to merely saving his family. There are stories of drastic rewrites surrounding this mega-budget movie, so perhaps we can look for a more coherent alternate version of the final act on video.
Run time: 116 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st June 2013
Box Office USA: $202.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $531.9M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: GK Films, Paramount Pictures, Skydance Productions, Hemisphere Media Capital, 2DUX², Apparatus Productions, Latina Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 169 Rotten: 81
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Marc Forster
Producer: Ian Bryce, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner
Starring: Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, Mireille Enos as Karen Lane, James Badge Dale as Captain Speke, Elyes Gabel as Andrew Fassbach, David Andrews as Navy Captain Mullenaro, Abigail Hargrove as Rachel Lane, Daniella Kertesz as Segen, Ludi Boeken as Jurgen Warmbrunn, Matthew Fox as Parajumper, Fana Mokoena as Thierry Umutoni, David Morse as Ex-CIA Agent, Peter Capaldi as W.H.O. Doctor, Moritz Bleibtreu as W.H.O. Doctor, Fabrizio Zacharee Guido as Tomas, Ruth Negga as W.H.O. Doctor, Pierfrancesco Favino as WHO Doctor, Konstantin Khabenskiy as Russian Fighter
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