Theatrical Review: 28 Weeks Later

In the movie, 28 Days Later, Britain saw the release of the Rage virus, turning humans into mindless maniacal killers from the results of experiments on animals. 28 days later from the initial release of one of the animals, and almost the entire population of the country was infected with the exception being small pockets of humanity here and there who’d managed to avoid them. 28 Weeks Later extrapolates on this further, going precisely that amount of time further from the initial infestation and to a point where a part of London has been opened up again for human habitation, thanks to a United States-led NATO force. We see a lot of this play out through the eyes of the Harris family: Donald Harris had abandoned his wife and a few other survivors to a sudden contact with the infected and he’s ready to welcome his children, who’d been refugees in Spain, back into his life. Telling his children what happened to their mother, they get curious on their own and manage to escape from the protected perimeter and find their way back to their home… only to begin a process that releases the Rage virus yet again…

And that’s the basic gist of 28 Weeks Later a sequel to the above-mentioned 28 Days Later which was from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Shallow Grave) and was a very stylish new take on a zombie-type of film. 28 Weeks Later from director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and much of the same crew of 28DL (including Boyle shooting second unit) continues what Boyle started for the most part in fine form. It’s an overall fun ride and one in which you’re never quite sure how it will all turn out in the end.

There are just a couple of nagging issues though that I have with precisely how the Rage virus gets set upon the land again, and they didn’t need to be there, there were other ways that they could’ve gotten to the same place, but for it’s own convenience it took a route that moved it’s story along faster as opposed to doing it in a more logical manner.

Plus there’s an issue involving Donald Harris (very well played by Robert Carlyle) about keeping him around as a “villain” of sorts through the piece so that his kids can have an arc that ties everything together of sorts in the end… this is more of a Hollywood thing than anything else, and for this movie especially with the threat that it deals with, entirely unnecessary– but to say any more would involve some major spoilers and I want to avoid that.

But still, with these problems that I have with it, I still thought that it ws an overall good time and still very much keeping with the precedent that Danny Boyle started with the first film. It’s incredibly well-made, with a huge scope and some very subtle and not-so-subtle effects work. And the music is terrific, especially the repeated rock-guitar riff that gets used in some very intense moments. And both the opening and closing of the film are absolute killers, real nice stuff.

Carlyle is the biggest “name” in the picture, and as I said above, he does real well with his part, as does everyone else in the movie, all solid actors from Jeremy Renner to Harold Perrineau to Catherine McCormack to Idris Elba… delivering the goods solidly. Note also goes to Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton who play the Harris kids, Tammy and Andy.

I’d heard through the grapevine that this was in it’s own way supposed to feature it’s own brand of commentary on the U.S. and the war in Iraq, but honestly, I just didn’t see that.. to me, any of the steps that were taken by the military in the film to shut down this virus seemed like the logical steps to take, and certainly the steps that I’d want them to take if the situation was “for real.” I think some of this talk about that might be folks looking into this a little too much for their own agendas, but that’s just me.

Still, for the most part, 28 Weeks Later is a pretty good horror film and the issues that I’d had with a couple of it’s points may in fact not be issues at all for others. If you enjoyed the first film, I’d definitely recommend this… and I hope that the speculation is true and Danny Boyle returns to direct the eventual 28 Months Later

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

14. May 2007 by Darren Goodhart
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