Frances Winston reviews the latest Brad Pitt movie, with fast-moving zombies and a twist on the traditional narrative
There are plenty of people who will go and see this film simply because of Brad Pitt. The man can do no wrong in many quarters, besides which the making of this movie garnered numerous headlines when the Jolie-Pitt contingent uprooted to Glasgow to shoot this zombie fest. The film is also sure to bring audiences in in their droves.
In a testament to the couple’s popularity, over 3,000 people showed up to an extras casting in the city, hoping to get the chance to share some screen time with Brad. The London premiere generated massive headlines’ marking as it did Angelina Jolie’s first public appearance since news of her double mastectomy broke. When a movie has already generated this much pre-publicity, the headlines can often overshadow the story. However, this does a decent enough job of standing on its own merits.
Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a retired UN operative, who is called back into action when the world is struck by a zombie apocalypse. Blackmailed into helping the authorities in return for a safe haven for his family, he sets out on a quest to find the origins of the outbreak. This quest takes him around the globe, which is being slowly destroyed by the epidemic. As he searches for answers, he realises that the zombies’ weakness may be far more obvious than anyone first thought. However, with World Health Organisation offices in lockdown, and communication with his superiors difficult, he is forced to take matters into his own hands.
There may be quite a large cast here, but most of the other actors have what could only be described as cameo roles. This is very much the Brad Pitt show, and he acquits himself well as the desperate father trying to save the world, and by default, his family (although those hoping for the sexy shirtless Brad of other flicks will be disappointed – he’s in serious family man mode here). Irish talent Ruth Negga appears as a doctor who may be able to help him vaccinate people against the Zombie virus, alongside the always wonderful Peter Capaldi, but on the whole the other actors have very little to do.
Obviously this is a bit formulaic at times. The Zombie film has been done to death (no pun intended) and it is hard to find a new twist on the genre. Unlike most zombie movies the creatures here actually move pretty fast, and seem a bit more coherent and organised than the rambling monsters we are used to seeing. However, the make-up on the actors playing the creatures’ looks pretty amateur for such a big budget movie, and I’ve seen more convincing zombies on the annual fundraising Irish Zombie Walk.
That said, this kicks off with an all-out action sequence and doesn’t let up, keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout. There are plenty of heart in your mouth moments, and tense scenes of mass hysteria generated by the attacks. At times it is unintentionally funny, and it has two of the most blatant examples of product placement ever committed to film, as well as lots of completely predictable plot points. This doesn’t detract from the fun element though, and it is a thrilltastic roller coaster. The ending sets it up nicely for a sequel, and there is definitely more mileage in this story, which doesn’t outstay its welcome. This is bubblegum for the brain that is worth a look.
In cinemas 21st June