28 Weeks Later (2007)
“It All Begins Again”
Director: Jaun Carlos Fresnadillo
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle,
Synopsis: Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.
It’s an oft-quoted film fact that sequels are rarely the equal of — or superior to — their predecessor, but in the case of Boyle and Garland’s 28 Days Later, it’s difficult to see how anyone could have possibly made a more inconsistent and illogical mess. So to say 28 Weeks Later is an immeasurable improvement isn’t necessarily a case of heaping praise upon it so much as to indicate relief that the new team learned from most of the old team’s mistakes. I use the word ‘most’ advisedly because, while 28 Weeks Later is far more logical in its depiction of the possible outcome of a virus that decimates the UK population, there are still a number of points that defy logic and so refuse to allow the viewer to suspend disbelief completely.
The film opens strongly with a truly shocking scenario that sees Robert Carlyle (The 51st State) fleeing for his life from what had previously been a refuge from zombies. In order to escape with his life he is forced to make a truly horrifying decision that will have everyone wondering what they would do if faced with the same dilemma. Fact is, most of us would probably do as he did, so his character should have our sympathy. But for some reason, he never does completely. In a strange way, that’s one of the film’s strong points: the survivors of the virus aren’t those that fought the hardest, they’re the ones that ran the fastest or hid the best, and so there’s no real place for recognisable cinematic heroes — although we are eventually served a couple in the form of an American serviceman and military doctor.
The underlying swipes at recent and present US occupations of other countries is impossible for all but the most passive of viewers to miss, and this is balanced by the heroic nature of the US personnel: it’s the war machine the writers are railing against, not the foot soldiers. The fact that the military chiefs consistently make incredibly stupid decisions may be as much down to ’28-Day syndrome’ as any telling observation of real-life US military strategy. The fact that practically every character in the film makes equally stupid decisions (although on a much smaller scale) suggests the former reason.
A third film in the franchise is almost inevitable, with the final shot a powerful one of zombies sprinting towards the Eiffel Tower and, given the improvements this film shows over the original, we can only hope that the increase in quality will continue accordingly. Vingt-huit mois, anyone?