Leave three attractive people alone on Earth, things happen to get a little wild.
After a nuclear blast hit the world and has practically wiped-out the human race, a few remain alive and are simply trying to survive. Ann (Margot Robbie) is a simple gal from the Southeast who still believes that there is a God, even despite all of the terrible events that have occurred in the past year or so. Though Ann thinks that she’s all alone in this vast landscape, John Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor) unexpectedly walks into her life, leaving her now with a new companion to help continue living on in this world of theirs. Eventually, the two get so close to one another that they, for lack of a better term, start to fall in love, which scares both of them because they know that the other could very well as be as the last loves they ever have in their lives. Then, walks into a mysterious stranger by the name of Caleb (Chris Pine) who seems like he’s there to help Loomis and Ann survive, too. But then, things get very tense and all of a sudden, this fearsome foursome get into some very tense waters with one another.
This is as simple as you can possibly get with a premise and somehow, director Craig Zobel finds a way to make it a little more complicated than that. However, that is not at all a complaint because Zobel’s smart with how he makes this plot more than just three characters trying to live after what is, essentially, a nuclear holocaust. And no, it’s not just a movie where two characters constantly fight over who’s going to get the girl in the end; it’s more about continuing on your path and learning to live in a world where you’re all by yourself.
Sometimes, though, as this movie shows, that’s a lot easier said then done, especially when you add any sort of love into the equation.
But like I said before, Zobel doesn’t allow for the movie to go into any sort of direction that you expect it to. Sure, spit is swapped, feelings are spoken about, and tears fall down cheeks, but they don’t come at such a capacity that makes the movie seem like an melodramatic soap-opera. It’s more that the movie is busying studying these characters for who they are, what they are, and how they act when thrown into a horrid situation such as this, and what it does to the three of them as a whole. In that light, the movie’s a lot more interesting than your usual, post-apocalyptic tale that’s more about the brooding, tired and sad world surrounding its story.
Which isn’t to say that Zobel doesn’t shed at least some light on the treacherous land the Earth has become; there are many beautiful moments of mountains and land in the distance that give you an even larger idea of just how much of an impact this disaster left. And even though the movie initially makes it seem like it’s going to be one, huge depression-fest for an-hour-and-a-half, it soon turns the other cheek and turns out to be a bit more of a positive movie.
Albeit, a very tense one, but still, there are some smiles to be found.
What mostly helps Z For Zechariah to be a whole lot more compelling to watch, is the fact that it features three solid actors who, well, know how to make lemonade from lemons. Although, it is worth speaking about how odd this cast actually is and what a gamble it may have been for Zobel to get by on such names, placing them together in a movie, and see if all of their conflicting acting-styles/experience could gel together.
Needless to say, it does, but it’s just interesting what was thrown into Zobel’s mind that made him feel as if these three exact actors were perfect for their own respective characters? Maybe the idea that they come from different backgrounds and may not be the three exact people you’d expect in a movie together like this, is exactly what Zobel’s going for. After all, it’s the apocalypse and it’s not as if the apocalypse chooses who meets and who doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s just pure chance.
So anyway, yeah. The performances.
There’s no denying the fact that Chiwetel Ejiofor is a solid actor. Even before the dude nabbed an Oscar nomination for 12 Years a Slave, he’d been doing amazing work in so many other eclectic pieces of work and here, as Loomis, there’s no difference. As usual, Ejiofor is a powerful force on the screen and makes you question this guy’s attitude and actions every second of this movie. Does he want to solely just survive, regardless of he’s got someone by his side to do so? Or, does he want somebody to love and to hold in his life, once again? And if so, at what costs will he go to ensure that’s so? It’s a very intriguing character and the fact that Ejiofor doesn’t have to do much except stand there and stare to further that effect more, makes it all the more of a treat to watch.
Then, there’s Chris Pine who, thankfully, is starting to show off his true colors in a some darker roles as of late. Though Pine comes in about half-way through as Caleb, he still commands the screen as you never know what he’s up to, either. Clearly, he seems a whole lot more dangerous than Loomis, but why? Does he just want to get laid? Or, does he want to try and survive, too? It’s never made fully clear, and that’s one of the main reasons why Pine constantly takes this character into odd directions that are to see coming.
And last, but sure as hell not least, is Margot Robbie, playing the terribly simple and naive Ann. Because Robbie is so incredibly gorgeous and stunning in real life, it was a bit hard for me to fully take her in as this regular-class, Christian-gal, that sort of dresses like a 12-year-old boy, but Robbie made it work for me. She’s still great-looking, but the movie doesn’t play on that fact to create tension and make it so that these boys can continuously fight for her; she’s obviously the source of the attraction because she’s, well, all that there’s left of the female gender.
From what they know, that is.
But what makes Robbie’s character so good, as well as the film itself, is the fact that she’s a Christian who never seems to be preachy about it. Sure, she loves to go to the church her daddy built, pray at the dinner-table, and look to God whenever it is that she needs him most, but other than those instances, the movie never makes it clear that it has an agenda to be about Christianity, or if everything happens for a reason. The movie also never criticizes her character, or for anybody else for having a certain idea about God, or not; they’re sort of just trying to get by, regardless of if they have a cross in their bedroom or not.
And honestly, if hell gets too crowded and zombies begin to walk the Earth, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
Consensus: Though its thin on certain details, Z For Zechariah gets by solely on the strong trio of leads, as well as the fact that Zobel never allows for his film to get conventional or obvious in any way.
8 / 10