(But this is becoming a treatise on Accents in Film, and I digress.)
What I liked about the movie was that it gave you a zombie infection that was actually good for humanity. Yes, it dulled the infected characters in a way that we would describe as "inhuman," but throughout the entire movie, you see news reports in the background talking about how this or that global crisis (Darfur! Chechnya! Iraq!) has ended with peace treaties and handshakes all around. There's something in us that rebels at the idea of losing our free will, our personalities, and the very quirks and flaws that make us human--but do hundreds of thousands of people dying in the Sudan care, if it means they get to live?
I'd heard that part of the problem with the movie is that it's talky, and there is a dinner conversation with an obnoxiously philosophical Russian diplomat early on in the movie where I kind of wanted Craig to just reach across Kidman and stab the guy with a fork (Violence! It's What Makes Us Human!). But there are two other scenes where a character (a different character each time) tries to convince the Kidman character that the change isn't bad, and in fact is necessary. And there's a moment where you see that she's tempted to give in and stop running and finally get some sleep, and it could even save millions of lives--that's pretty good, isn't it? And I honestly felt at that point, during that last attempt to talk her down, that I would have had a very hard time resisting. (Well, for more than one reason, but let's save my shallowness for another day.) If you believe at all that there is ever a time that the greater good is more important, even the least little bit, you have to stop and consider it. And you can see that the only thing that stops her is that there's something that she in particular would have to give up, that they would take away from her, and she's not having it, not for one moment. But if that particular condition weren't in place? It would be extremely hard to argue. Or at least, I felt it would be. And at the same time, I felt this completely irrational panic--a hypothetical, what-if panic, I mean--at the idea of giving my humanness up, in a very "If this is wrong, I don't want to be right" way, and I think it's that humanness itself talking. There's something revolting about the idea of giving up our us-ness, for lack of a better word, our stupid crazy wonderful rough edges, even though someone might argue that it's the right thing, or the best thing, to do. There's just something irrepressible and implacable about it, the way that you can't hold your breath underwater indefinitely; some kind of survivor instinct will push you to resurface and breathe even if you don't want to. I don't know--I can't help but think that any zombie movie that made me write a whole paragraph of Deep Thoughts has got to have something to it.
But this is also a movie that's decided to try for the having-the-cake-and-eating-it-too ending, and in truth, it doesn't have the nihilistic jolt that a lot of true-blue zombie movies have (everyone's safe! OH WAIT)--maybe because we're too happy for the people in the movie right in front of us, and the Sudan isn't really something we see or think about in a way that makes us feel it. Many of us didn't care beyond "Oh, that's so terrible, what's happening over there, far away," and we still don't by the end of the movie. We care about the people who are like us, who could be us