Former UN agent Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), his wife Karen (Mireille Enos), and their children are stuck in traffic in Philadelphia when the city is overwhelmed by Zombies. The chaos spreads and the family escapes to Newark, NJ, hiding in an apartment with a couple and their son Tommy (Zacharee Guido). A horde of zombies attacks the apartment, the parents are infected, and the Lane Family escapes with Tommy. The Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Thierry Umotoni (Fana Mukoena), sends a helicopter to take them to a US Navy ship in the Atlantic Ocean where the zombie outbreak is being studied. A young virologist named Andrew Fassbach (Elyes Gabel) insists that the plague is a virus, and a vaccine could be made if they could track down its origin.

Gerry, Fassbach, and a SEAL team are sent to Camp Humphreys in South Korea, but the zombies attack. Fassbach accidentally shoots himself. The team is rescued by soldiers and Gerry learns that the plague was introduced to the place by its doctor. Gerry is sent to Jerusalem, where the Mossad has set up a safe zone.

There, Gerry meets the Mossad Chief Jurgen Warmbrunn (Ludi Boeken), who escorts Gerry around the city, huddling behind huge walls. But the zombies scale the walls and overrun the city. As he is being escorted back to his plane, Gerry notices that the zombies ignore an old man and an emaciated child. One of Gerry’s soldier escorts called Segen (Daniella Kertesz) is bitten on the hand. Gerry amputates her hand, and they escape on a commercial airliner.

Gerry radios Thierry, who diverts the flight to a WHO lab in Cardiff. A zombie has stowed away on the plane and most of the passengers are quickly infected. Gerry ruptures the cabin with a grenade, which ejects the zombies, but the plane crashes. Gerry and Segen survive and make their way to the lab. Gerry, Segen, and a WHO doctor fight their way into the lab. Gerry explains his theory that the zombies ignore injured and sick people as unsustainable hosts. He suggests they inject themselves with a deadly pathogen to make them unappetizing.

Of course, the pathogens are stored in a zombie-infested part of the lab. They fight their way through the lab and Gerry finds himself in the pathogen room. He has to inject himself with a deadly but curable disease to get past the zombies. Gerry and Segen reach a safe zone in Nova Scotia. A vaccine is developed which allows people to escape the zombies and then to defeat them. Gerry is finally reunited with his family.

The film was directed by Marc Forster, from a screenplay by Matthew Carnahan, Drew Goddard, and Damon Lindeloff, based on a story by Carnahan and J. Michal Straczynski of Babylon Five fame, from the 2006 novel by Max Brooks. It received positive reviews for Brad Pitt’s acting and the amazing zombies, but the slow-moving and tense climax of the movie was criticized. The movie was a money-maker, though the studio claimed it barely broke even. Straczynski, who wanted to remain true to the book, was eventually fired.

The big battle scene supposed to end the film was stymied because the studio had flown in 85 prop guns but forgot to clear them with the Hungarian authorities and the Hungarian Antiterrorist Center seized them all. The studio claimed they were not functional, but it turns out they could easily be made so. Eventually, the charges were dropped because the government could not figure out who actually owned them. A line suggesting that the zombie plague had begun in China was cut at the request of the Chinese censors.

Peter Capaldi, who was the 12th Doctor Who, played a character referred to as the WHO Doctor. Brad Pitt liked the political references, but gradually the politics was watered down in preference to action scenes to create a summer blockbuster. The whole third act was re-written in the middle of the production. In Glasgow, 3000 people showed up to play zombies. The most impressive parts of the movie, in my opinion, are the waves of zombies piling up and climbing the walls like the giant bugs in the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies. So much for the slow-moving zombies of the past.