Most of Matthew Fox’s scenes in World War Z did not reach the movie’s final cut, which confirms the zombie thriller’s biggest narrative problem. Based on the acclaimed novel written by Max Brooks, World War Z is a breathless roller coaster of never-seen-before zombie action scenes. Although its overarching storyline is linear and avoids delving too deep into its primary character beats, the survival flick sets one action set piece after another to keep viewers at the edge of their seats throughout its runtime.
Other than featuring a torrent of white-knuckling showdowns between humans and the living dead, World War Z also boasts a talented ensemble cast including Brad Pitt, Daniella Kertesz, Mireille Enos, Elyes Gabel, and Matthew Fox, among others. Despite accommodating a high-octane across-the-globe zombie adventure for Brad Pitt’s character in its limited runtime of two hours, World War Z gives enough screen time to most of its primary side characters to make their presence and significance known. However, considering how Matthew Fox is among the familiar faces in World War Z’s roster, it seems strange that he only has a blink-or-miss scene in the movie.
Matthew Fox’s Paratrooper Was Almost Completely Cut From World War Z
In World War Z’s opening arc, Matthew Fox briefly emerges as a paratrooper who rescues Brad Pitt’s character Gerry and his family. Fox’s fleeting appearance in World War Z’s theatrical cut is barely noticeable, but he had a relatively more prominent role in the movie’s original script. Long before World War Z was re-shot to change over 40 minutes of its 2-hour runtime, Matthew Fox was the zombie thriller’s antagonist who gets into a relationship with Gerry’s wife in the United States while Gerry struggles to fight zombies in Russia.
World War Z’s original version ends with Brad Pitt’s character gaining access to a phone in Russia after being unable to contact his wife for several months. When he learns that his wife complied with the paratrooper’s twisted demands to keep herself and her children safe, he heads back to the U.S. to save his family. Owing to the ambiguity and abruptness of World War Z’s original ending, Brad Pitt and Paramount’s executives were not content with it. Even test screenings proved that it needed to be changed. Hence, the zombie thriller was extensively re-filmed, which diminished Matthew Fox’s role to almost nothing.
Cutting Side Characters Was A Problem For World War Z
Even though World War Z’s budget skyrocketed to $200 million after all the re-shoots, the zombie apocalypse flick performed well at the box office by earning $540 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). However, despite its commercial success, World War Z received mixed reviews from critics because it failed to rise above the regular fare of survival horror movies, primarily because of its lack of focus on fleshing out its side characters. This shortcoming becomes all the more evident in World War Z’s ending moments, where Brad Pitt’s character finds a potential camouflage to overpower the zombies, but his achievement feels incredibly anticlimactic and disjointed.
Time and again, films like Train to Busan and 28 Days Later have proven that the best zombie survival horror dramas are the ones that recognize how a zombie apocalypse is a human story at its core. Fox’s character left room for World War Z to find this human core by exploring interesting avenues surrounding the immoral nature of opportunists in a bleak apocalyptic world and the importance of family values for a virtuous hero like Gerry. Unfortunately, World War Z barely scathes the surface of all the psychological and emotional stories it could have unraveled if it had kept Matthew Fox’s arc in the final cut.