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Film / World War Z

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"Mother Nature is a serial killer. No one's better. Or more creative. Like all serial killers, she can't help the urge to want to get caught. What good are all those brilliant crimes if no one takes the credit? So she leaves crumbs. Now the hard part, why you spend a decade in school, is seeing the crumbs. But the clue's there. Sometimes the thing you thought was the most brutal aspect of the virus, turns out to be the chink in its armor. And she loves disguising her weaknesses as strengths. She's a bitch."

World War Z is a 2013 Disaster Movie based on ideas from the book of the same name. It stars Brad Pitt (who also produced the film), Daniella Kertesz, Peter Capaldi, James Badge Dale, Michiel Huisman and Mireille Enos. Instead of being a direct adaptation of the book that describes the survivors' recollections of the titular war, the film tells a sidestory about events that take place before and during the Zombie Apocalypse. It was directed by Marc Forster, co-written by Damon Lindelof and scored by Marco Beltrami with Muse.

Gerry Lane, a former employee of the United Nations, is happily settled in Pennsylvania with his family, having given up a globe-trotting journalism gig to be with them. When they leave home, they begin to hear news of an outbreak of African Rabies on the radio, and quickly find that the rumors of the disease are true when a horde comes rushing through the city. After they make a harrowing, nerve-wracking escape from the city, Gerry is forced back into service, tasked with finding the source of the disease in hopes of developing a vaccine.


The film brought new meaning to Development Hell and Troubled Production, as it went through several enormous revisions including a new last act featuring Peter Capaldi, suffered multiple people leaving, and eventually devolved to the point where Brad Pitt and the director couldn't talk to each other anymore. It's safe to say that this was one of the most aggravating productions since Apocalypse Now. The entire plight can be viewed in great detail in the Trivia section.

A tie-in First-Person Shooter for mobile called World War Z developed by Phosphor Games Studio and released on May 30, 2013 about a survivor called Doug trying to rescue his son.

A four player co-op shooter also called World War Z developed by Saber Interactive in partnership with Paramount was released in 2019.

A sequel has been planned, with Brad Pitt returning, David Fincher was lines up to begin directing and running production beginning in early 2018, but he has since rescheduled due to commitments to Mind Hunter.


World War Z provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: While on an airliner thousands of feet in mid-air, Gerry realizes that passengers in the compartments behind have become infected and the only thing separating them is a curtain. Everyone starts piling luggage in front of the curtain to stop the zombies from seeing them, only for a bag to fall through the curtain and give them away. Needless to say, almost everyone gets infected.
  • Action Girl: Segen, the IDF soldier who joins Gerry after Jerusalem falls. It really goes beyond the standard invocation in film, as she shows almost casual smoothness in combat operations, suggesting a long military career in the field.
  • Action Survivor:
    • Gerry. Justified in that his old job had him in war zones.
    • Karin also shows signs of it, responding to a zombie trying to climb into the vehicle by bull-kicking it in the face until it's knocked off.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film focuses on the plight of one man, Gerry Lane, instead of focusing on the accounts of other survivors. Elements found in the survivor's tales can also be seen in the film, choosing to focus on a super-charged Great Panic instead. The film also takes the "driver ant" comparisons the characters in the book make to an extreme - the zombies here make similar body piles to get at elevated targets.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The story featured in the movie is an original one taking place in the same universe.
  • Adult Fear: The main one is obviously the fear of a pandemic, but Gerry's separation from his wife and children is also prominent.
    • When Gerry wakes up in the apartment of Tomas's family, and can't find one of his daughters. False alarm for once; she's curled up in the bathroom with the little boy, who'd been comforting her. Any time one of the girls is out of her parents' sight, really.
    • One of the doctors at the medical center tells Gerry that he lost his son to "what used to be his wife". OUCH.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Gerry is a fan of these:
    • He strokes his sleeping daughter's hair for a long tender moment to say goodbye to her, and kisses her temples.
    • Gerry also kisses Segen on her forehead after she inadvertently provides him with a clue to solving the crisis.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: Gerry disinfects and redresses Segen's wound after the plane leaves Israel, and she provides him with an inadvertent clue that makes him come to a realization about the virus.
  • America Saves the Day: Averted, just like the book. The Great Panic hits hard and leaves the US in utter disarray, the military scattered and its chain of command largely wiped out. Towards the end however, the Americans do start staging a large-scale retaliation, just as in the book.
  • Animal Motif: Rather than the stiff shambling zombies of the book, the behavior of the zombies in the film is modeled after the behavior of real-life animals (with several shots of various animals in the opening credits just to drive the point home). They often move like a mass of ants, piling their bodies on top of each other to form living ladders. Some throw themselves skullfirst at targets, motion that was inspired by footage of salmon leaping upstream.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Gerry seems to be trying to become one. Despite his involvement in UN affairs, he takes no interest in the news of the world going to pot. He uses his pull from his old position to get airlifted, but then assumes his family can stay on the freighter, safe, without his involvement.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Gerry lops off Segen's hand after she's bitten by one of the infected, and she doesn't turn.
  • Armour Is Useless: Averted. Despite what the source material says, Gerry's improvised forearm coverings end up giving a zombie something to chew on other than him. Actually a case of Shown Their Work. The Zombie Survival Guide does acknowledge that Kevlar or similar forearm coverings would be useful for fending off zombies with a significantly reduced chance of getting bitten. It is merely critical of unnecessary body armor outside urban environments where friendly fire is a likely threat, as the key to survival is freedom of movement.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Zombies, duh, but also, The disease only infects healthy humans. The 'vaccine' for the zombie plague involves unfecting a non-zombie with a different life threatening disease. The zombies will ignore them. It's also suggested that immunity can be achieved by limiting the non-zombie's ability to perform as a zombie. Examples: amputating an appendage before the infection sets in, or removing all of a non-zombie's teeth.
    • Actually averted. Zombies are explained to behave like predators, and avoid diseased prey. Also, removing non-zombie's teeth does not give immunity from bites, it prevents them from biting other people if they get turned.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: The Israelis are said to have prepared for the zombie apocalypse when they received a report from India that mentioned "rakshasas", meaning "undead". "Rakshasa" would be more accurately translated as "demon", though, given that Rakshasa often appear as death-pale flesh-eaters, this isn't far off.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The iconic - and marketing focused - zombie attack on the wall in Israel would fail on two accounts. Zombies are the general mass and durability of live people. The Square-Cube Law means that trying to make an ant pyramid of them on a hundred feet high will result in most of it being smashed into goo and the upper tiers unable to support their own weight anyway. Second, zombies are killed by major brain trauma and still need bones to move. Jumping several stories to paving stones will leave few if any moving zombies for the Israelis to shoot.
  • Attempted Rape: Karin ends up attacked by some opportunist in the convenience store, and Gerry shoots him outright to save her.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Captain Speke, the leader of The Remnant in South Korea, and Segen. (Segen refers to a Lieutenant in the IDF.)
  • Badass Boast: Speke gets one off during his Defiant to the End suicide: "It's alright, boys. I got this one."
  • Badass Bystander: Several people in the film. Justified in that all citizens of Israel have to serve in the military at one point. Segen, however, is an extreme case. The one moment we see her having a Freak Out and screaming is because she's just had her hand chopped off and was also afraid of turning into a zombie.
  • Badass Israeli: Sure, Jerusalem falls in the end, but the IDF soldiers put up one hell of a fight.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A cop arrives at the supermarket to see Gerry has killed a man in self-defense and starts jogging toward him. Gerry and his wife raise their hands in surrender, but the cop runs past them to grab some supplies like the other looters.
  • Bald Woman: Segan, who wears a military crop. note 
  • Bayonet Ya: Gerry tapes a kitchen knife on the end of his bolt-action rifle; it saves his life as he only has to fire one shot when attacked by several zombies on the stairwell.
  • Behind the Black: A Jump Scare early in the film is presented from Gerry's point of view, with his vision slowly panning down a stairwell before suddenly getting surprised by a zombie. The position of the zombie suggests that it was standing right in front of him and patiently waited until he looked down before attacking.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Gerry returns to his family with a pseudo-vaccine, and people finally seem to be able to defend themselves from the zombie threat. However, the war has just begun. Oh, yeah, and millions of people are dead or undead.
  • Black Helicopter: The black navi helicopter taking the family to the aircraft carrier.
  • Blackmail: With a purpose. The government tells Gerry: help us find the source of the pandemic, and we'll keep your family safe. Refuse or fail, and they get put back on the mainland to take your chances. The threat turns out to be somewhat empty, as the area they're evacuated to is secured. The issue was that everybody knew that no matter how fortified, any shelter located on the mainland would be vulnerable to zombie attack.
  • Blatant Lies: The survivors at the Cardiff installation tell Gerry "I'm sure they're safe" when he finds out his family has been sent to a refugee camp. Gerry is only enraged since he's seen what the zombies are like first hand, and insulted by what seems to him a platitude. The head fires back that he's already lost his wife and son, losing the latter "because" of the former. Gerry at least still has hope.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Compared to most zombie media, this is fairly tame in terms of violent content. It's even rated PG-13. This is mostly made possible because victims turn so fast, the zombies don't have time to actually eat anyone. This is actually a plot point — the zombies turn out to be more like viruses themselves, than murderous cannibals. The Gory Discretion Shots were due to editing down from the original R rating to make the film more audience-friendly, thanks to Executive Meddling, for example Gerry cutting off the Israeli soldier's hand was not cut away from in the original edit. The unrated version shows the bloody arm stump.
  • The Cameo: Matthew Fox (Lost), who appears in an uncredited role as one of the helicopter parajumpers who rescues Gerry and his family during the escape from the apartment roof in Queens. In the original ending of the film, Fox's character would have become a Chekhov's Gunman when it's revealed that his wife had been coerced into sleeping with him so he could protect her and Gerry's children after Gerry himself went missing after landing in Russia.
  • Car Fu:
    • Gerry follows a garbage truck smashing its way through a traffic jam; this works well until an ambulance slams into his own car.
    • In the Korean scene, Captain Speke has to drive a fuel truck onto a zombie-strewn airfield, so just uses it to run them down.
  • Casting Gag: Peter Capaldi as a World Health Organization Doctor. A select few people knew of his casting as the Twelfth Doctor prior to the official announcement on 4 August 2013, including some of the film staff, so they threw this in there.
  • Compromising Call: Gerry's wife Karin calls while he and his team are trying to quietly sneak through a horde of zombies. The call alerts the zombies and results in some deaths.
  • Continuous Decompression: The only way Gerry is able to clear an airplane while in flight of zombies.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • To quote Honest Trailers: "Watch Brad Pitt survive an un-survivable apocalypse thanks to a constant stream of lifesaving coincidences like: never hitting traffic in the middle of mass hysteria; finding an RV with the keys and a loaded gun inside; this friendly mugger showing him where to find medicine; this friendly Mexican family taking him in, no questions asked; these fast zombies who slow down as soon as they are about to catch him; this small child headshotting a zombie on top of him; this plane dropping a ladder down to save him at takeoff; this Israeli soldier killing a zombie about to eat him; surviving this car crash; surviving this plane crash; surviving a spike through his stomach; and shooting up with a randomly picked virus that happens to be curable while also serving as zombie camouflage."
    • Aside from the contrived coincidences saving his life, it's sheer contrived coincidence that he happens to be at... pretty much every single turning point in the whole apocalypse. Some of which happens to be justified as him actively trying to be involved, but many major events (such as Jerusalem) simply happen to occur while he's there.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Tommy saves Gerry by shooting an attacking Zombie in the last possible moment.
  • Cosy Catastrophe:
    • Compared to how quickly his homeland slid into utter chaos, what Gerry sees of Israel seems almost "business as usual" thanks in part to the wall. Which turns bloody once the zombies breach it.
    • Similarly, aside from an abandoned milkman's truck, the Welsh village Gerry and Segen walk through appears untouched. Given that the only life is one person peering out of their curtains, we're left unsure if either everyone's dead, long-gone or just staying very quiet?
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Israeli's "Tenth Man" doctrine. When the 9 elders unanimously decide that a report of impending crisis is really just a hoax or non-existent, the 10th elder is supposed to be the Devil's Advocate and act as if the report is real and true, and take the necessary precautions.
  • Crowbar Combatant: The weapons given to the protagonists when they sneak into Ward B, so they can kill silently. The axe gets used to hold a door open, Segen prefers to use her pistol instead of the bat as she's only got one hand (surprise is blown by then anyway) and Gerry has an Oh, Crap! moment when his crowbar gets jammed in a zombie's skull and another one is running towards him. With the heavy restrictions on firearms in the United Kingdom, resorting to blunt weaponry is pretty much the only option left available to them.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Gerry's younger daughter, who shrieks almost all of her lines. Some reviewers have compared her to Dakota Fanning's character in War of the Worlds.
  • Danger Deadpan: After Gerry's satellite phone goes off while they're trying to sneak past some zombies, causing the zombies to wake up and swarm them, one of the snipers chimes in with a truly beautiful bit of snark over the radio:
    Sniper: Looks like we just woke the dead. Out of respect for others, please turn off all pagers and cell phones.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One of the soldiers in Korea calmly and sarcastically requests that everyone please turn off their pagers and cellphones when Karin picks the worst possible time to call her husband and makes Gerry's phone go off.
  • Death by Adaptation: Unusual example with Jerusalem. In the original novel, it's one of the few countries to not fall to the zombie outbreak. In the film, it gets completely overwhelmed shortly after Gerry arrives.
  • Deuteragonist: Initially it's Karin, Gerry's wife. Later in the story, Segen takes this role.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The zombie horde is made to resemble a watery flood, driving home the idea they are a force of nature.
  • Doomed Contrarian: The father of the family who take in the Lanes until their rescue chopper arrives. Gerry, in gratitude, invites them to come with him when help arrives. His son Tommy, translates into Spanish that Gerry has experience in danger zones and suggests not staying put if they want to survive. The father declines the invitation. Next time we see him, he's arguing with his wife, who urges him to do the same, noting that the food won't last forever. Just as he's about to disagree, the door begins banging. Loudly. Watch closely in the following scenes on the rooftop. One of the zombies that chase Gerry on the roof is the father.
  • Driven to Suicide: Several of the soldiers stationed in Korea on realizing that there's no way to stop the zombies other than shooting them in the head, and that they'll run out of ammunition due to the sheer overwhelming numbers. We see several pairs of feet against a fence, indicating soldiers hanged themselves.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Subverted. Gerry's younger daughter cries out for her stuffed mouse, Subway Sam as the family leaves their crashed car. We see a shot of the doll laying on the ground... and then Gerry picks it up as they run towards the RV. The toy's "charming phrase" that lasts about 15 seconds helps him know how long it takes for a person to become infected.
  • Emergency Broadcast: Gerry tunes a radio to such a broadcast, but all it says is for people to stockpile food and stay in their homes, perhaps because the authorities don't understand (or believe) what is happening.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Gerry sees the Israeli cancer patient being completely ignored, even if he attacks one of them. It's then he resolves he must find a disease control center somewhere.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Dogs can detect the virus, as in the book. One does it while on a plane, while another is seen being used in the epilogue.
  • Exact Time to Failure: It takes around 15 seconds from bite to zombification in all the cases Gerry encounters. There's mention that it takes minutes or longer in other countries.
  • False Reassurance: Thierry is informed of Gerry's apparent death in the plane crash, and assures the caller that they'll look after his family. Cut to Gerry's family being placed on a helicopter for a "safe zone" — marginally less safe than the carriers, because it's on land, on an infected landmass.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead: The soldiers in South Korea mention burning zombie bodies after shooting them in the head, just to be sure.
  • Flash Back: Gerry has several, some as nightmares and some as remembrances of things seen or said to him.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A subtle one in the opening: Gerry's daughters pounce on him in bed in the same way the zombies do later.
    • The opening sequence shows some evidence of the nascent zombie uprising taking place. The two sickly Israelis and the sick wino in New Jersey that the zombies ignore foreshadows that they have a weakness.
    • Dr. Fassbach mentions Spanish Flu in his first scene. Spanish Flu, a pandemic that targeted the healthy and more or less spared the infirm.
    • Gerry warning Dr. Fassbach to keep his finger off the handgun's trigger.
  • Genre Shift: The first two-thirds or so of the film are one action set-piece after another (USA, Korea, Jerusalem, the airliner). Then the plane reaches Wales, and most of the rest of the film is people creeping around inside a building.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • North Korea deals with the infection by having its citizens yank out all their teeth! Can't bite anyone without teeth, right?
    • Gerry and Segen are trapped on an airliner thousands of feet in the air, with zombies swarming up the passenger compartment towards them. The pilots certainly aren't going to open the door, so Gerry throws a hand grenade that blasts a hole in the side of the aircraft, killing the zombies via Continuous Decompression and forcing the plane to crashland killing both pilots.
    • While traveling between South Korea and Israel, Gerry witnesses a nuclear detonation taking place, implying that whoever set it off, felt the current situation in their country was that bad!
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Some of the more graphic actions (such as a zombie getting its head bashed in) happen offscreen.
  • Greater Need Than Mine: As Gerry makes his way to an airliner to escape an overrun Jerusalem, only he and an injured Segen manage to board. The other soldiers remain behind, presumably to defend the airliner as it takes off.
  • Handicapped Badass: Segen getting her hand amputated doesn't affect her accuracy with a pistol.
  • Happily Adopted: Tommy is taken in by the Lane family after his parents are killed, and the family hug at the end makes it clear that he's a member of the family in all but name.
  • Happily Married: Gerry and Karin.
  • Heal It with Booze: How Gerry field treats Segen's wound once they're aboard a plane and in the air.
  • Hellish Copter: The IDF helicopter sent to take Gerry to the airfield sees zombies swarming towards them, so lifts up without landing but not in time, as zombies hurl themselves onto the landing skids and attack the crew, crashing it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The last remaining member of Gerry's SEAL bodyguards is told that the fuel line hasn't been uncoupled, so they can't take off. Commenting dryly that he hopes what Gerry's going to find in Israel is worth it, he walks out onto the tarmac swarming with zombies to uncouple the line.
    • Gerry commits one as well for the sake of the world. Segen and one of the WHO doctors accompany him but are forced to go back. He ends up alone in the infectious diseases room with no idea which ones are curable and which are incurable but lethal. He injects himself with one such because he knows Zeke doesn't attack anyone who is infected with a life-threatening sickness.
  • Heroic Suicide:
    • After a zombie spits blood in his face, Gerry runs to the edge of the rooftop and starts counting off 12 seconds, prepared to throw himself off if he's infected so he won't attack his family. He's not.
    • Captain Speke realizes he's been infected, and says so on the radio. A sniper offers to shoot him, but Speke replies that it's been taken care of, and can be seen putting his pistol to his head just before walking offscreen, and a shot rings out.
      Speke: You're kidding me. I'm a goddamn Zeke.
      Sniper: I got you, Captain. Just say the word.
      Speke: It's all right, boys. I got this one.
  • High-Pressure Blood: In the R-rated cut, when Segen gets her infected hand lopped off by Gerry, the stump spouts blood with high pressure.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Israel builds huge walls to seal off Jerusalem from the zombies, but they don't have defenses on top like guard towers to counter any possible scaling attempts like the trope below. Even the helicopter patrols don't spot the scaling until it is too late.
  • Human Ladder: Israel surrounds itself with huge Bremer walls to keep the zombies out. Unfortunately they get in anyway when thousands of zombies swarm the wall at one point, forming a fast-rising pillar of undead.
  • If I Do Not Return:
    • When the protagonists cross the skybridge into the zombie-infested Ward B, the doctor tells his staff that if any zombies turn up before they do, they're to barricade the doors permanently.
    • Gerry then does it in Ward B, holding up a sign to the cameras that reads "Tell My Family I Love Them" in case his plan to get out of the ward fails and he falls to the zombies.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Gerry advises Dr. Fassbach to keep his finger off the trigger specifically to avoid this. It doesn't take, and the doctor quickly ends up inadvertently blowing his own brains out after tripping.
  • I Owe You My Life: Heavily implied between Gerry and Segen: she and her unit protect him during the attack on Jerusalem, and he saves her from becoming Zeke, and then she later helps him get help when he's impaled by shrapnel.
  • Impairment Shot:
    • Gerry wakes up after Segen gets him to the World Health Organization in Cardiff. The shot is out of focus and bleary as his first sight are the overhead lights.
    • Also Captain Speke after he gets bitten.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Gerry wakes up after the plane crash to find himself himself impaled by a piece of wreckage sticking through his side and out his back. Fortunately Segen is also alive to haul him to the research centre for treatment (and this is less than a day after Segen suffered her amputation).
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Although we see mobs and mobs of zombies, they are all adults.
  • Improvised Armour: Gerry duct-tapes a magazine to his left forearm so he can use it to fend off zombies without being bitten.
  • Improvised Weapon: Since traditional weapons are in limited supply and gunfire only draws more zombies, the protagonists fight zombies using improvised bayonets, crowbars, baseball bats, fire axes, and pieces of luggage.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • After a Latino family shelters Gerry's family during the initial Great Panic, Gerry and his wife are offered beers.
    • Segen. Justified in that she had been seriously wounded since Gerry amputated her left hand at the wrist and Gerry was doing a field dressing on her with only tiny airline vodka bottles as disinfectant and anesthetic.
  • In Name Only: Besides the title, the movie has only tiny tips of the hat to the book, none significant.
    • The "Patient Zero" story told to Gerry in Korea closely mimics the one from the novel, albeit in Korea, not China, and in a US-controlled zone.
    • The Israeli agent's remarks about "human nature" and "the tenth man" are quoted nearly verbatim from the novel.
    • In the book, it took about 24 hours for a bite victim to become a zombie. In the film it only takes 12 seconds. (Earlier versions of the virus took up to 10 minutes.)
    • The movie zombies (a howling horde of rabid people) are a completely different model from the book (a groaning plague of shambling corpses).
    • Basically all the major locations mentioned, like North Korea and Israel, have their situations inverted completely.
  • It Has Only Just Begun: Gerry notes in the ending that, even though he developed a zombie-repellent, the world has a long way to go before things resemble pre-war life.
  • It's Raining Men: Zombies have no hesitation about throwing themselves off high places to get at their victims. Justified as they are trying to get as many people infected as possible, and at least SOME of them will survive. When Gerry and his family are being evacuated from a rooftop, the zombies chasing them are running so hard they run straight off the building when the helicopter lifts off. When Gerry's plane takes off from South Korea, the cargo door is still open so all the zombies who've swarmed into the plane fall out the back.
  • The Jaywalking Dead: A fuel truck in South Korea makes Zeke roadkill.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: At the beginning of the movie Gerry is stuck in a traffic jam with his family, and gets out to see what's with all the police and media helicopters. A motorcycle cop shouts at him to get back in his car and stay there, only to be suddenly run over by a careening garbage truck.
  • Kill It with Fire: Used as a method of stopping the infected. Only effective if Boom, Headshot! has been applied first.
  • Kinda Busy Here: Gerry leaves a satellite phone with his wife, saying he'll call once a day to let her know he's still alive. Unfortunately his first call doesn't make it through, so she tries ringing back just as he's trying to sneak past some zombies. After surviving that Gerry makes another phone call and this time gets through, only to be disconnected mid-conversation by the EMP from a nearby nuclear explosion.
  • Large Ham: Downplayed. The former CIA operative speaks and acts in a larger-than-life manner, though he doesn't Chew the Scenery. He can't...his teeth have been pulled out!
  • Life-or-Limb Decision:
    • Segen gets bitten, and is staring in horror at her hand when Gerry chops it off.
    • Though it doesn't involve appendages, the order for everyone in North Korea to have their teeth pulled is a nation-wide variant of this.
  • Lottery of Doom: Gerry is trapped in a pathogen storage lab by a zombie, and the only way past it is to put his theory into practice and inject himself with a lethal pathogen for which a cure is available. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that one of the cabinets he'd collected bottled pathogens from contained uncurable diseases. Fortunately, he doesn't choose this one.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything:
    • In a general sense, Gerry manages to wind up at ground zero for pretty much every major event. In the book these were stories told from various points of view, but for the movie they were all handled by Gerry.
    • On the plane, Gerry dresses the soldier's wrist personally. Not a single call to this crowd of over a hundred passengers if any of them are a doctor/nurse/etc, who may have more professional experience with amputated limbs. May be justified, as while it isn't official, he does have enough experience to do the job himself.
  • MacGuffin: Here, it's the promise of a cure.
  • Meaningful Background Event: One of Gerry's daughters asks him what martial law is when it appears on the news. Some of the B-roll on the same show displays what appears to be a zombie horde.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Cardiff is in south Wales — about as far south as it is possible to go, in fact, on the southern coast. Wales has mountains, but far north of Cardiff. Not so in World War Z, where Cardiff appears to be in the mountains of north Wales.
  • Mythology Gag: Certain events that occurred in the book are alluded to in the film.
    • The "Rabies" is said to have started in Taiwan and parts of Africa — the latter of which was one of the first affected in the outbreak.
    • The "Patient Zero" story is almost identical to the one in the book, only it takes place in South Korea instead of China.
    • The former CIA agent notes that North Korea mobilized their entire populace underground, and, in one of his deluded ramblings, says "Sportsfan", which is a genericization of Metsfan, given name of a possible delusion of an Air Force pilot.
    • The UN and US military establish a safe zone at seas, but deny refuge to anyone who doesn't serve a purpose to them. This is strongly reminiscent of the Redeker plan, on the ocean. Unlike in the book, however, this is an Atlantic carrier group stationed a hundred miles north of Bermuda, and the Safe Zone for "non-essential personnel" is Nova Scotia, not everything west of the Rockies.
    • Israel was the best prepared nation to handle the zombie attacks. Initially.
    • The tactic of attracting zombies into one location with loud noises and then blowing them to shreds is used at the end of the film.
    • A nuclear explosion is seen at one point, perhaps the conflict that arose between Iran and Pakistan.
    • Late in the film a shot of the infection hotspots shows nearly all major European cities marked with red blobs... but Ireland is conspicuously white, implying the island remains infection free. In the book the Pope is noted as having spent the war in refuge in Ireland.
    • It's implied that all animals, as in the book, are alerted to the infection — dolphins beach themselves en masse in the opening, and a little chihuahua-Pomeranian thing barks aggressively at a turned infectee stuck in the galley elevator of a plane. In the novel, dogs were used to screen infected people.
    • At the WHO compound, Gerry, the Israeli, and the scientist who volunteers to go with them arm themselves with a fire axe, a crowbar, and a baseball bat. These weapons were Max Brooks' top choice for hand-to-hand combat in The Zombie Survival Guide.
    • As with the book and the survival guide, zombies become dormant when presented with no humans, but upon spotting an uninfected human, will alert other zombies with a distinctive cry. In the books, it's an extremely loud moan, the signature of classic Romero-types. In the film, it's a raptor-like click-screech.
    • Enormous piles of bodies left after combat operations that have to be cleared with bulldozers, with still-living zombies rolling out and posing a danger.
    • The radio transmissions at the end are very reminiscent of the Great Panic's frantic civilian transmissions, albeit in reverse — whereas, in the book, they signified global collapse, in the film, it reveals not everyone was overrun, allowing humanity to fight back.
    • One of these transmissions begs survivors to "go north". This is exactly what happened in the book — civilian radio encouraged all refugees to "go north" to wait out the zombie outbreak. Unlike the book, which ended in nearly all of the refugees wiping out Canada's ecosystem and dying of exposure, illness, and utter lack of planning or unwilling to get out of their comfortable lives, this is because Nova Scotia is an established safe zone.
    • When discussing the hypothesis that zombies will outright avoid people with severe illnesses or are near death, one of the female scientists at the WHO compound tells Gerry that attempts to make a vaccine, or trying to get microbes to attack the zombie virus, have failed. The Zombie Survival Guide states that solanum cannot be made into a vaccine, as any exposure will zombify the vaccinated, and that there have been multiple attempts by scientists to have microbes attack solanum, all ending in failure.
    • As in the book, the biggest reason for spread of the virus are infected people spreading across the globe, via mass transit. Also in line with the book, depending on how exposed someone was to the virus, it can take either 12 seconds from a direct bite, or minutes, hours, or days for the infection to fully settle in. The book gives zombie resurrection an entire day, however.
    • Here, the zombies take the "driver ant" analogy to an extreme. Driver ants were the name given to them by the Japanese, as they swarmed and ate everything in their path. Here, they climb like driver ants, too.
    • In the book, a blimp pilot mentions seeing all sorts of vehicles on the road, trying to flee — cement mixers, RVs, the works. A cement mixer shows up to crush a cop, and an RV gets abandoned, for Gerry to hijack.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • Trailers for the film stated that Russia had gone dark, and a character in Israel states that Russia is a black hole, implying the climax of the film would take place there. In the actual film, it is changed to India, and the climax takes place in Wales. This was the original idea, as well — Gerry was to have wound up in Russia and drafted into a militia.
    • The trailer seems to imply there's some invisible force controlling people.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The escape from South Korea would have gone swimmingly, had it not been for Karin calling Gerry and alerting the zombies with the ringtone.
    • Remember the scene in the trailers where zombies started swarming over each other in order to get over a huge wall? They were set off by people singing and celebrating on the other side of it. Jerusalem, the only place to make it through the war relatively unscathed in the books, falls.
  • No Ending: The movie just stops with a hasty five minute epilogue.
  • No Name Given: The only name Segen gives Gerry is, well, Segen, which is an IDF term for a Lieutenant. It's lampshaded when Gerry asks for a first and last name, and Segen insists on using Segen.
  • "No Talking or Phones" Warning: Referenced by a snarky soldier when Gerry's phone rings as they're trying to sneak past a zombie herd.
  • Not His Sled: The zombies do make it into Israel, unlike in the book. On the other hand, North Korea's true fate is left ambiguous in the book, while the film they respond with the brutal but highly effective plan of yanking out the teeth of all 23 million North Koreans in 24 hours, which keeps newly infected zombies from passing on the infection, making eliminating the hordes a snap.
  • No Time to Explain: Gerry calls his boss in the UN to ask for the location of a WHO research station and to use his clout to divert the plane there, but won't pass on his theory about the zombies ignoring terminally ill people because his phone battery is dying. If he'd been killed in the plane crash...
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Initially played straight — the zombies are referred to as "Rabies-infected" or, more bluntly, "things" when they are first introduced, likely because the people aren't sure what else to call them. When the word 'zombies' is first mentioned, the initial reaction is scoffs of disbelief. By the end though, a zombie is a zombie, and they are referred to as such. Only exception being the soldiers in South Korea who call them Zeke. Other terms, used in the book, such as "G", or "Zack" were never used.
  • Nuke 'em: As Gerry flies to Israel, he's shocked to feel a blast and see a mushroom cloud rising through the clouds below. It's not mentioned if this is a nuclear accident or a Godzilla Threshold response to the Zombie Apocalypse. If canon is any guide, it may very well be a nuclear conflict between Iran and Pakistan.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: The UN can't make Gerry join an investigation team headed for South Korea to investigate the zombie virus, but there is only room for essential personnel on the aircraft carrier. If he isn't going to be useful to them, he and his family will have to take their chances in a refugee camp. And it wasn't a bluff either — as Gerry's family is relocated to Canada when Gerry is presumed dead in the plane crash on the way to Cardiff.
  • Only a Flesh Wound:
    • The metal through Gerry's abdomen should have pierced his intestines, a nasty and often fatal wound even with a full surgical center. However he's on his feet with a little discomfort in no time.
    • Same with Segen losing her hand. The body doesn't bounce back quite that fast, though the film does give us a cursory few symptoms of shock.
  • Only One Name:
    Gerry: I'm Gerry, by the way.
    Segen: Segen.
    Gerry: First or last?
    Segen: Just Segen.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • The zombies can move very quickly, more in line with 28 Days Later or 2004 Dawn of the Dead than traditional zombie fare. This is a notable difference in the book, where it is mentioned that the zombies aren't capable of running. They're also capable of creating human pyramids to allow other zombies to ascend in a matter similar to ants, something not mentioned in the book but, surprisingly, mentioned in The Zombie Survival Guide. Not to mention that they become dormant when nobody is around.
    • There's also an aspect to them that isn't apparent until the end: the virus relies on human bodies in order to spread, but it is equally vulnerable to people who have serious diseases, are sufficiently old, or too injured — they can't effectively spread the virus. The zombies don't stop to consume human flesh — they're far, far more interested in spreading the disease.
    • In addition, unlike the shamblers of the book, these zombies aren't just fast. When enough of them get together, they act more like a living flood of bodies. It eventually becomes less like fighting a horde of humans and more like fighting a natural disaster.
    • Unlike the 28 Days Later version, the zombies are specifically described as being undead. Oddly, despite being clinically dead, the infected can still be killed by things that can drop an uninfected person, such as a few shots to the chest.
  • Papa Wolf: Gerry, in the first part of the movie until he gets separated from his family.
  • Parental Abandonment: Tom's parents end up zombiefied, leaving him orphaned. Gerry's family takes him in as one of them without missing a beat.
  • Patient Zero: Only hypotheses exist — the most likely infection vector came from Taiwan, according to the US personnel in Korea.
  • Plan B Resolution: With Dr. Fassbach killed before he can even begin his work, it falls to Gerry to improvise and figure out a plan to stop the zombies.
  • Plot Armor: In addition to evading numerous zombie hordes, Gerry and Segen survive a plane crash that kills everyone else on board.
  • Product Placement:
    • The ruggedized phones Gerry and his wife use are Iridium.
    • Once Gerry has given himself camouflage against the zombies, he stops to drink a Pepsi — then dumps all the cans out of the machine so the noise will draw them away from his safe exit.
    • A Pure brand DAB radio can be seen in Gerry's kitchen at the start of the film.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Israel in general; those walls being erected all these years were for a reason. "First to know, first to act." Or, more to the point, Israel has been building walls for centuries, as Gerry notes, to keep enemies out. They manage to actually finish them Just in Time for the apocalypse to start because they have the "10th man" who confirmed the suspicion of zombies and told them to hurry the fuck up.
    • The doctors at the WHO lab in Cardiff keep Gerry Strapped to an Operating Table until they a) verify he's not a zombie, and b) get someone to vouch for him in case he's come there planning some mischief.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Dr. Fassbach fails to keep his finger out of the trigger guard. Gerry calls him out on this, but the advice goes unheard as we see Fassbach slip on the C-130 and accidentally shoot himself in the head.
  • The Remnant: A group of US Military soldiers still fighting in an abandoned South Korean military base.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Bodyshots can stop the zombies, though Boom Headshots are stated to be more reliable.
  • Retired Badass: Gerry is very happily retired from his job for United Nations, and has to be blackmailed into working with them again.
  • Right Under Their Noses: The Ward B team have to sneak past the open doorway of an office with several dormant zombies, one of whom keeps turning towards the door as it thrashes about.
  • Rousseau Was Right: There are a number of instances of people helping each other out during the disaster instead of simply letting them die to save themselves.
  • Rule of Cool: After releasing all the Pepsi cans from the machine, Gerry could've stepped aside and let the infected pass. But it looked much cooler to see him striding confidently straight down the middle of the hall as the horde flowed around him like water, though it could be Gerry deliberately testing how effective his protection is.
  • Run or Die: The entire film involves Gerry moving from country to country, getting whatever information he can and then hauling ass to the next. If he stays put for too long, the infection catches up to him.
    Gerry: Movement is life.
  • Sadistic Choice: The vaccine/camouflage is this. Either infect yourself with a lethal (or potentially lethal) disease, or try your chances with the zombies. The epilogue states that they've created a neutered version of meningitis, which probably means they've devised a method of camouflage but neutralized the "lethal" portion of it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The UN pilot takes off when he hears zombies have breached the Israeli perimeter, forcing Gerry's IDF security team to stop a Belarus airliner at gunpoint to take Gerry and a wounded Segen on board. Averted with the security team; having delivered their charges, they stay to fight rather than flee their country.
  • Security Blanket: One of the kids demands her blanket when they rush through the city early on.
  • Shaky Cam: Used to illustrate how chaotic things have become.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: After the Surprise Car Crash early on all sounds are muffled for a moment.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The young but brilliant doctor Fassbach is played up to be a kind of Save This Person, Save the World. The poor kid ends up accidentally killing himself before learning anything about the infection at all, though he does give an important, obscure hint to Gerry.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There's a soldier who kills zombies. His name is Ellis.
    • The way Gerry dispatches a doctor-turned zombie at the WHO by stomping on his head calls to mind Dead Space.
  • Shown Their Work: Aside from Lane reminding Dr. Fassbach to use good trigger discipline (forgetting it is what gets the poor guy killed), there's also the scene where Lane is impaled by a piece of wreckage and wisely leaves it in place until he can get proper medical treatment. This is exactly what you're supposed to do with such an injury.
  • Sidekick: Segen becomes one for Gerry when they board the plane to Israel, and she later helps him walk to the WHO building after he's been impaled with shrapnel, and goes with him to find the pathogens in the isolated wing despite being short one hand.
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: Fassbach looks like one ut turns ut to be a Red Shirt. The surviving doctors at the WHO bunker play it straighter and help find the solution humanity needs to fight the zombies.
  • So Much for Stealth:
    • The zombies remain in a dormant state unless they hear noise. In South Korea, the protagonists use bicycles to ride onto the tarmac before sending in the fuel truck, but Gerry's satellite phone goes off. Later, Gerry, Segen and a doctor are trying to sneak into a ward with over 80 dormant zombies, they keep making inadvertent sounds (kicking a soda can, stepping on broken glass, and a very creaky door) before one of them finally bumps into a filing cabinet with a loud clang! That brings 'em.
    • Humorously parodied when Gerry deliberately makes the entire soda machine spill out its cans in an unholy racket — he does so coolly and calmly because he needs the racket to distract the zombies who can no longer detect him.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The triumphal music at the end doesn't quite match the shot of thousands of bodies being bulldozed into a mass grave for burning, though it does work for the rest of the scene.
  • Surprise Car Crash: When the family car gets t-boned early on.
  • Surprise Vehicle: The trash truck that was evidently blasting through traffic, knocking over cars so quietly that Gerry and the police officer couldn't hear it.
  • Taking You with Me: An IDF soldier blows himself up with a hand grenade after being swarmed and infected by zombies. Unfortunately, this makes the cage he and the zombies are on collapse onto fleeing civilians underneath.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: On the pharmacist clerk Gerry and Rachel run into — something of an Oh, Crap! moment as he's wearing a hoodie and pointing a gun at them. Subverted when he just asks what drugs they want and gives it to them free of charge. Gerry has to shoot someone in the store moments later, so the clerk's behavior is entirely understandable. The clerk told them the medicine he gave them worked for his son, then watches Gerry and his daughter leave with barely discernible tears in his eyes. If his son didn't make it, then he's going to give someone else a fighting chance. There's a dead body on the floor of the pharmacy, so it's likely the clerk had to shoot someone just a short time before, explaining his stunned expression.
  • Technically Living Zombie: Despite being describe as undead, is clear that at least at first the virus infects and chages living people. Most likely the issue is that the infected person keep moving after death.
  • Title In: New locations get an identifying title in the lower left hand of the screen.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • After explicitly being told to stay as quiet as realistically possible, a bunch of people start singing in order to remain calm. This would typically be fine, except one of them grabs a microphonemaking it loud enough to cause the zombies to rally together to crawl over the walls.
    • The design of the wall utterly fails to take into account the issue of the zombies being able to scale the structure. There's a reason that throughout the centuries, castles and forts were often surrounded by moats and chevaux de frise to prevent enemies from getting close enough for this to happen! Considering the entire project was implemented as a result of outside-of-the-box thinking and planning for worst case scenarios, this comes across as even more of an oversight! Compounding this, there appears to be a lack of soldiers standing on the wall to, say, warn people that zombies are climbing the wall because of their singing before it's way too late.
  • Undignified Death: Dr. Fassbach dies in a rather humiliating way: slipping on a wet ramp and accidentally shooting himself in the head.
  • Unflinching Walk: Gerry does one once discovering a way to camouflage himself from the zombies.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: Downplayed. While the UN takes a decidedly more central role than in the book, it serves more as "The Alliance of whatever national remnants they could contact" rather than a One World Order.
  • Unrated Edition: With more explicit scenes.
  • The Unreveal: It is never found out what caused the virus in the first place.
  • Vertical Kidnapping: Gerry is running through an alley covered in wire mesh when a zombie reaches down, pulls up one of his IDF security team and chomps on his neck.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The Navy SEAL disappears after the refueling scene at South Korea, and he isn't seen again after he detaches the fuel hose from the plane. Given that the plane was overrun by Zeke and his last words to Gerry, he is most likely dead though.
    • Gerry and the pilot witness a nuclear explosion from the plane. We never find out where it was located (except for "somewhere in Asia"), or what the cause was (it was presumably an attempt to stop an outbreak). It's never even discussed. In the book, a nuclear war broke out between Iran and Pakistan. The blast seen in the movie was most likely in Iran given their flight path.
    • The pilot and Warmbrunn disappear after the Israeli outbreak, and, for some reason, the IDF soldiers accompanying Gerry and Segen choose not to board the plane with them.
    • Israel. While Jerusalem is shown to have fallen to the zombies, it remains relatively open whether the rest of the country survived. Especially given how the IDF respond.
    • Given the implications that Ellis had an undiagnosed and potentially lethal infection, it's unclear if his fellow soldiers in North Korea caught it in time to save him, or if they even had the proper medicine to do so.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Discussed when Gerry, while cajolingly reassuring Dr. Fassbach, describes the SEALs as hammers and says that everything looks like nails to them, so it's up to the two of them to point out non-nails they need to notice.
    SEAL: I heard that!
    Gerry: You were supposed to!
  • The World's Expert on Getting Killed: Dr. Fassbach seems to be only one who can find a way to stop the Zombie Apocalypse, but he ends up accidentally getting himself killed before he can even get started.
  • You Are in Command Now: Gerry accompanies highly-regarded virologist Dr. Fassbach to find the origin of the infection only for the doctor to kill himself with an accidental discharge upon landing in South Korea.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The military makes it clear that if Gerry doesn't help them, they'll throw his family off the ship as there's no room for anyone who's not useful. When Gerry is reported as MIA, that's exactly what happens... With the family being evacuated to a refugee centre in Nova Scotia.
  • Zerg Rush: The zombies take this to a rather terrifying extreme, at one point amassing so many bodies that it's less a zombie horde and more a wave of angry flesh consuming anything in its path.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Though it is presented more as an epidemic.
  • Zombie Gait: They have the stilted walk, mainly when dormant. Though these zombies are also capable of climbing, crawling, and running.


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