Lost the Plot: World War Z
Lost the Plot is a weekly feature where Matt Carter delves into the murky world of movie plot holes, highlighting cases of storyline contradictions, goofs, gaffes and occasional bad writing. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.
This week's target is World War Z, Brad Pitt's globetrotting zombie apocalypse drama.
Let me begin this feature by explaining that the following article is not me bashing the movie because I didn't like it. On the contrary, I thoroughly enjoyed World War Z and thought it contained some of the most spectacular action set pieces of what's been a blockbusting summer. It was by no means a perfect piece of film making though and there were plot holes and occasions of unbelievable coincidence that would leave hordes of the undead scratching their rotting heads.
Here we go.
All Along the Watchtower
The Jerusalem segment of World War Z is probably the most entertaining part of the entire movie, as Gerry Lane (Pitt) first learns about the city's supposedly impenetrable defense system, before said defenses are spectacularly breached and an irresistible wave of the undead flow through the narrow streets consuming everything in their way.
The Jerusalem segment of World War Z is also probably probably the silliest.
Think about it...
You've managed to build a massive wall around your city, ignoring for now the fact that no one else in the world noticed. After all the blood, sweat and tears that was expended to get the wall erected in record time, wouldn't it then be prudent to install some kind of lookout on top of the wall. After all, on one side of the barrier is the frightened, confused and very edible human population, while on the other side are a bunch of RAVENOUS ZOMBIES! Surely you would station armed guards in watchtowers on top of the wall wielding all sorts of heavy-duty weaponry ready to blow the zekes sky high. Instead the wall was left completely unattended, allowing the ghouls free passage to breach the defenses and commence their Jerusalem Special All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.
On a side note, when Lane lands in Jerusalem, it seems like there are flights departing from the airport. If this city is supposed to the last-known safe zone, a question needs to be asked: Where are all these flights going?
Zekes On a Plane
In order to flee the zombie clusterf@%k that is Jerusalem, Lane and his one-handed Israeli compatriot Segen commandeer a passenger plane and reroute the flight to Cardiff in order to find a cure for the outbreak. All seems to be going smoothly until the in-flight entertainment starts and instead of watching a movie or a couple of episodes of Seinfeld, the passengers have to battle a stowaway zeke who would rather chomp on them than the below average economy lunches. Lane decides the best course of action is to blow a hole in the side of the plane, buckle up the seat belt, return the tray to the upright position and hope for the best. It's without doubt an exhilarating action set piece, but it did leave me with a couple of problems.
Hear me out...
After the plane crashes into the Welsh countryside, the only two survivors from an entire plane full of passengers and the undead are Lane and Segen. Not only does she survive pretty much unscathed, but she also had time to disembark, go for a windy walk and scavenge a blanket, her only injury being a slightly grazed forehead. Lane on the other hand has been impaled through his kidneys, but was still able to hobble to the World Health Organization lab to which the plane had unbelievably managed to crash land within walking distance. To complete the trifecta of implausible plot, a zombie also "survived" the crash yet was unable to escape the clutches of the airplane seat belt despite the zekes at the beginning of the movie capable of smashing though pretty much anything that stood in their way. And instead of Lane and Segen stabbing the thrashing zombie through its putrified brain and killing it once and for all, they leave it alone and run the risk of it escaping later and going on a rampage though the British wilderness.
WHO Won't Get Fooled Again?
If you've read any of my previous editorials on World War Z, you'll know that I had serious reservations about the final act of the movie. The last 40 minutes, when Lane walks, runs and stumbles through the WHO lab looking for a solution to the zombie outbreak felt cheap (which it was), tacked on (which it was) and flat (which it was).
But let's not get hung up on the merits of the movie's denouement, there's much more fun to be had taking a look at some of the ludicrous plot points instead.
Lane theorizes that the zekes can "smell" terminal diseases on potential hosts so avoid them and chow down on healthy folk instead. Apparently Lane, who is no doctor by the way, arrived at this conclusion because he saw a couple of skinny and bald people ignored by a horde of the undead. Now, I'm no scientist, but if the virus's main prerogative is to spread as quickly as possible, then surely it doesn't matter if the host only has eight months left to live. It's not like the infected are planning a long and prosperous life, retiring at the age of 65 and moving to a Floridian condo to drink herbal tea and watch reruns of Murder She Wrote.
Also the infected in the third act seemed like an entirely different species from those that rampaged through the streets of Philadelphia. Gone were the head-banging undead that launched themselves like carnivorous missiles through window, doors and faces. The scientists explained that the zombies went into an almost catatonic state when they are not stimulated, but this felt like a lazily written plot device used in order to create the traditional slower-moving zombies in order to build some tension.
Further points for consideration
Gerry only has his wife's number saved in the contacts of his satellite phone. Wouldn't it have been good practice to also have the numbers of those in command on speed dial as well?
Why were the soldiers so mean to Lane's family when they were on board the ship.
The soldier Lane met in South Korea hadn't been bitten by the infected because he had a limp. What kind of terminal disease gives somebody a limp but no other symptoms?
Overall World War Z was an exhilarating thrill ride and despite some questionable plot points and writing, it was a more than worthy addition to the zombie apocalypse movie canon.
Now it's over to you. Use the comment section below to add any plot holes that I might have missed or to respond to some of the points that I raised above.