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28 Weeks Later
28 Weeks Later|
cast: Robert Carlyle, Catherine McCormack, Rose Byrne, Imogen Poots, and Jeremy Renner
director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
99 minutes (18) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
20th Century Fox DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Jim Steel
Danny Boyle left the follow-up to 28
Days Later in the hands of Juan Carlos Fresnadillo while he went off to make
This gives us two reasons to wish that Boyle had concentrated on making 28 Weeks Later
himself. Fresnadillo has not done a bad job of directing; stylistically it is very faithful to
Boyle's original. The problem seems to lie with the writers and here Fresnadillo will have
to hold his hand up, as he is partially responsible for the script. One of the main plot
devices in the original concerned the 'rage' virus that turned most of the British population
into angry zombies. So angry, in fact, that they forgot to eat and starved to death after about
five weeks. This, of course, places certain demands on a follow-up. It would be possible to
film a story that ran concurrent to the first one, but we would all know what the characters
would have to do to survive. And it wouldn't fit the title. Therefore there has to be a way to
reintroduce the rage virus, and breaking out another laboratory batch would be merely repetitive.
Let's see how they did it.
During the initial outbreak, Donald and Alice Harris (Robert Carlyle and Catherine McCormack)
are holed up in a farmhouse with a motley bunch of survivors (shades of
Night Of The Living Dead),
info-dumping for all they are worth about how, amongst other things, their children were abroad
when the virus struck. Then the house is attacked and overrun by zombies. The thing about fast
zombies is that they're like crossing a road and seeing a car speeding towards you; you don't
have time to think. Carlyle, instead of attempting to rescue his wife, runs for it. He is the
only one to get away. Did he make the right decision? Possibly. How it has affected him as a
character is unfortunately not explored to any great depth.
We then jump forward six months. The Americans have arrived, leading once more to the
question of what is more annoying: Brits with fake American accents or Americans with
fake British accents? They are actually at the head of a multinational force, although
we see no other nationalities, and they have set up a fortified base in the middle of
London. It's strategically foolish, but the director doesn't have to worry about portraying
a countryside that has gone wild over six months. We also get more of those eerie shots of
an empty city that wowed us in the first film and that we all now know were done by filming
at the crack of dawn. The geography of London itself seems somewhat fluid during the events
of the film, but that's hardly a major drawback. Britons who were stranded abroad during the
outbreak are now arriving back in the country and are living in the compound. This includes
Harris' children, Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (the challengingly named Mackintosh Muggleton).
The kids break out of the compound to go to the family home to retrieve mementos and are
shocked to find that their mother is there, almost crazy by now. All three are taken back
to the compound where it is discovered that Alice is carrying rage but has a natural immunity.
Naturally this then leads to a second outbreak of the disease. The Americans attempt to eradicate
it by wiping out everyone in the compound but the kids escape with the help of a doctor (Rose
Byrne) and an army sniper (Jeremy Renner). The doctor is convinced that the children hold the
key to a cure and they attempt to get them to safety with the help of a friend of the sniper
who seems to have unlimited use of an army helicopter.
If the supermarket sweep in 28 Days Later was a nod of the head to Romero's
Dawn Of The Dead,
then the first helicopter rescue attempt in 28 Weeks Later is an over-the-top use of
another scene in the same film. You'll know the one that I'm talking about if you've seen
Dawn Of The Dead. I'm the sort of person who likes to think that the ending of the
first film is a subtle homage to The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue because I
like subtle touches in zombie films. Cut-and-paste in any film just reeks of laziness. Then,
after much confusion as a lot of the action takes place at night or underground, the film
stumbles over a massive and totally unnecessary coincidence near to the conclusion. It's
unfair to say more, but you will be annoyed by it. It's a very untidy film, but '28 Months
Later' is set up and awaiting take-off.
Much has been made of the supposed Iraq analogy in 28 Weeks Later, but it doesn't
really hold up. At every stage in this film the kill-'em-all proponents are proved right
and it is the humanitarians who bring grief down upon the survivors. It's a bleak outlook
for a bleak film, but hardly comparable to the tragic situation in the Middle East.
The DVD extras consist of trailers for The Hills Have Eyes, Sunshine,
Prison Break: series 2, and Fantastic 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer. Oh,
yes - and an advert for Maltesers that some genius of an advertising executive thought
would hit its demographic target in the audience for this film.