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Without further ado, a full synopsis-review (that means SPOILERS) of The Good, The Brad and The Zombies:
The credits roll with ominous hints of environmental pollution, clips of violence, angry monkeys and people acting peculiarly, all over the world. So pretty much the standard intro sequence for every zombie action movie for the last 20 years.
Then we meet Brad Pitt and the Brady Bunch, Brad is ex-UN investigator (Angelina would be so proud) who has experienced “The Most Hostile Environments On Earth”(TM) – but now prefers to stay at home and make pancakes for his kids.
As the family eat their pancakes (I’m surprised Brad didn’t pick up more orphans during his UN days) violent images flicker through on the TV. Martial law has been declared in India.
As Brad drives his family through the streets of Philadelphia, the traffic becomes dead-locked. The tension builds as pedestrians begin to flee down the side walks. A police officer orders Brad back into his car, only to be hit full force by a speeding truck moments later. Brad makes the snap decision and follows in the wake of the truck as it carves a path through the traffic. Sadly, moments later, after a traffic collision, the car is upside down in the middle of the road and Brad’s walking hamstring of a daughter is having an asthma attack.
Brad watches as a man is attacked (and presumably bitten, it was quite difficult to tell as he thrashes around in the road about 200m away). For no apparent reason Brad has the prescience of mind to count the seconds it takes the man to become infected. Why would he do this if he didn’t know anything about the zombie infection? Don’t count the plot holes. Seriously. Just go with it.
Brad leads his family to a camper van and they head out of Philadelphia. He makes a call to the UN Deputy Secretary General, Thierry Umutoni, who agrees to arrange a helicopter extraction for Brad and his family – but this is not an act of unselfish generosity, they need Brad!
The family travel into Newark to get asthma medication for their dead weight daughter. Inside the store we see more signs of the breakdown of society, as shelves are ransacked, two guys attempt to kidnap Gerry’s wife (for no apparent reason) and a police officer ignores Gerry’s shooting one of the assailants, instead gathering jars of baby food. When the family return to the parking lot their camper van has been stolen, what a surprise.
As a crowd of swarming zombies attack, Gerry and his family flee to an apartment building where they are given food and shelter by Tomas and his family. The helicopter eventually arrives, Gerry advises the family to come with him but the man of the house decides they would be safer remaining where they are. His definition of ‘safe’ apparently being locked inside an airless room with little food and hordes of marauding zombies outside. After Gerry leaves, zombies arrive at the apartment and proceed to give the door a damn good kicking.
Gerry and family are attacked on the stairs to the roof, with some truly unbelievably good fortune, Tomas has some how managed to escape the tiny flat (which must have been flooded with zombies), run through the corridors (zombies), up the stairs (more zombies) and reached Gerry (who is fighting zombies).
They all reach the roof where Matthew Fox (blink and you’ll miss him) sniper-rifles the attacking zombies and loads Gerry, family and newly adopted son (that’s more like it Brad!) onto the helicopter.
They fly to a US navy vessel off the coast, where they are assigned 5 bunk beds and subjected to the bitching of the grunts, who don’t want to share their food with no god-damned civilians. Sorry – who are you supposed to be protecting again?
Brad is blackmailed into helping deliver Dr Fassbach, a nerdy virologist, to the outbreaks ‘source.’ For some unknown reason this is in South Korea. Despite the outbreak of the apocalypse, Gerry’s wife doesn’t want him to go. Presumably she wants him to stay aboard and make pancakes. But go he must – because other wise the Brady Bunch will be kicked off the ship. Brad isn’t bothered about the millions of people who are dying, the break down of society, the hopelessness of the situation – so long as his wife and two brats are safe. Talk about ignoring the big picture Bradley.
During the flight Dr Fassbach gives Gerry the standard ‘science-talk.’ Upon disembarking the soldiers are immediately attacked by zombies. Fassbach runs back on to the plane – trips – and shoots himself. I assume this moment was meant to shock the audience into thinking “oh my god! I can’t believe they killed the scientist! They’re all doomed!” In actual fact the audience thinks “eh? What just happened? Was that the scientist? Did he fall over? I can’t really see. Oh, Brad says he’s dead…he shot himself? What – by accident?!” Rather than being horrified, as we would if had he deliberately shot himself in a moment of panic – this weird death scene is confusing and leaves you thinking “well that was a bit pointless” and also “Brad is really shit at his job.” He had one mission. One. Protect the scientist. The scientist is dead within two minutes of getting off the plane! You’re shit Brad!
Even though Brad has totally FAILED his mission he decides to continue with the investigation. Just what a totally useless former-UN investigator thinks he can achieve is beyond me.
Anyway – inside the base we get a bit of back story. An army medic came back to the base infected with something, it took him about 20 minutes to become infected and then he started attacking his patients. The shoulders introduce Brain to the smouldering remains of the infected. A head shot wasn’t enough for these guys and unburned flesh still twitches amongst the ashes.
Then we meet a prisoner at the base – former CIA operative Gunter Haffner – who is as mad as a box of rabid frogs. He tells the charming tale of how North Korea has escaped the zombie plague – every inhabitant was forced to remove their teeth with pliers, as he has done. Cue a nice big gummy smile just to prove it! He then tells Gerry to go to Jerusalem to discover why the Israeli’s had foreknowledge of the coming zombie apocalypse. Gerry displays his usual sound judgement by following the advice of the barking mad loony.
As they return to the plane, Gerry gets two more soldiers killed, as his wife tries to return his call via satellite phone and alerts the local zombie population. Seriously – you couldn’t switch your phone off? You really think it was a good time to call your wife – just before you landed at an army base surrounded by zombies?
So Brad and his pilot (everyone else is dead) fly to Israel. Here Brad meets the leader of Mossad, Jurgen Warmbrunn. He explains that Israel intercepted a message from India, regarding soldiers fighting the undead. After a bit of unbelievable guff about the Jews being ultra-cautious with regards to any perceived threat (tin foil hats at the ready guys?) he explains that they are now a happy-hippy commune, where everyone (except zombies) is welcome.
The happy jubilant singing of united Israeli’s and Palestinians agitates the zombies, who go bat shit crazy in their attempts to climb the walls until, bodies piled upon bodies in an amazing pyramid formation, they finally make it inside.Sorry Mossad – that’s what happens when you give help to Gerry ‘The Jinx’ Lane. I don’t know – is there some meaning to this? Israel and Palestine finally end their differences and unite, only to be over-run with zombies? Is this Gerry’s way of ensuring the peace lasts? A big helping of irony?
His escort Segen gets bitten, Gerry promptly lops off her arm, counts to 12 and declares her saved! He also notices and old man and an emaciated bald boy who are ignored by the zombies, hmm…I wonder if that could be significant.
Gerry flees the carnage aboard a civilian flight which had been trying to land in formerly safe Israel. I don’t know how the plane had managed to circle the earth for the 2+ days since outbreak – without needing to refuel – but there you go. A few bottles of vodka and a first aid kit and Segen is good to go. Gerry convinces the pilot to take him to the nearest World Health Organisation research facility. Which is in Cardiff. Wow – seriously? The nearest WHO installation to Israel is in fsking Wales?!
Well because this is Gerry The Jinx, there is a zombie outbreak on the flight and as a result the plane crashes in the valleys (looked suspiciously like New Zealand to me). Thanks for sprinkling the infected across the British countryside Gerry – you inconsiderate prick. Oh and Segen survives. Big whoop.
At the instillation he meets
Malcolm Tucker Peter Capaldi and some Italian. He phones the UN guy and discovers that, upon receiving greatly exaggerated reports of his death, his family were promptly kicked off the Navy vessel and shipped to Nova Scotia. The horror! Nova Scotia!!!
This useless UN grunt then proceeds to inform the scientists that he’s figured out a solution: the infected don’t bite people who are already ill! Because they wouldn’t make good hosts. I will neatly side-step the myriad of plot holes here.
The only problem is that all the diseases are stored within a zombie infested section of the research facility. Brad sneaks in, injects himself and strolls back out again. Nobody died – amazing! He then trots off to Nova Scotia for a touching reunion with his family and a voice over declares that this is just the beginning.
I am reliably informed that the novel which this is based on is really quite fabulous and that this is a decent stab at adapting a book which reads like a very exciting UN report. I also really like J. Michael Straczynski and I’m familiar with his projects. I know he doesn’t settle for simple story telling, there is always a subtext, theme or thorny issue to be addressed. That’s not done with much subtlety in this film, and the main character feels forcibly based upon Brad Pitt’s notion of the ideal action hero. I will read the book as soon as possible (it’s on my list!) but until then it is hard for me to judge some of the films aspirations.
But this is, however, primarily an action film. For a zombie movie it is surprisingly light on zombies. That might sound odd when you’ve seen the massive host of infected piling themselves into undead siege engines but that’s exactly the point. These zombies are not a lumbering, festering nightmare of the traditional era or even the crazed, rampaging terrors of the last 10 years. They are more like a plague of locusts or a battering ram. And they feel peculiarly sanitised. Rarely will you see a zombie close-up, instead you are subjected to the CGI masses swarming across the globe. On the rare occasion you actually see a real zombie (you know – a human being in make-up?) they look so clean. There is no blood in this film. And what are the infected actually trying to do? Eat people? Bite them? Kill them?
There are some intriguing hints about this disease and where it came from but for the most part they remain unexplored. It’s outbreak at the army camp and its origins in India merited far more investigation, even some flashbacks or archive footage. Instead we zip from one set piece to the next as ‘the science bit’ is delivered at breakneck speed. As usual lessy fluffy character exposition and more back-story would provided a much more interesting film. You expect me to care about the Brady Bunch while the whole world goes to hell? For some reason the struggles of one man and his family while the rest of the world goes to hell in a handcart appears to be the order of the day in American post-apocalyptic thrillers, but they always leave me feeling cold.
And while it is a very tense and exciting experience, it’s light on any real horror or chills. This is the zombie film taken squarely into the big action movie block-buster genre, with both feet planted squarely in the post-apocalyptic sub-genre. But this is less 28-Days-Later and far more The Day After Tomorrow, with all the daddy-issues and moralising present but (thankfully) diluted. Think Will Smith’s I Am Legend or Tom Cruise’s War of the Worlds and you get the general idea.
And I know this is fake and old but it still makes me chuckle. Although I find the swan diving zombie just as amusing: