28 Weeks Later (2007) / Horror-Action

MPAA Rated: R for strong violence and gore, language, some sexuality, and nudity
Running time: 99 min.

Cast: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Mackintosh Muggleton, Imogen Poots, Amanda Walker, Shahid Ahmed, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Idris Elba, Garfield Morgan, Emily Beecham
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Screenplay: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesus Olmo, E.L. Lavigne

Review published June 4, 2007

28 Weeks Later picks up six months after the events of 28 Days Later, with the repopulation of the British Isles, after its quarantine of the island nations resulted in those infected with the Rage virus starving to death.  Donald (Carlyle, Eragon) is a father living in London, waiting for the arrival of his son Andy (Muggleton) and daughter Tammy (Poots), who had been away from the country when the virus hit.  Their mother, Alice (McCormack, A Sound of Thunder), had been assumed dead, but the kids visit their old home, only to find she miraculously survived a vicious attack by the infected.  Turns out that she actually does have the virus, but her body appears to be immune to it, though she is still a carrier.  After reuniting briefly with Donald again, he ends up contracting the virus, and all hell breaks loose in an already ravaged Britain yet again, except now it's more deadly -- "Code Red" has been ordered, and the military is to leave no one left alive.

Emphasizing more action than drama this time out, 28 Weeks Later is a worthwhile sequel that keeps the momentum of the original going, offers a few new twists, and somewhat like its predecessor, lessens its impact as it heads toward the final climax.  Director Danny Boyle hands over the directing reins to Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto). resulting in a less somber, more in your face approach that pays off when it comes time for some choice thrills and chills.  However, predictability in the script ultimately keeps this sequel from achieving the overall quality of the original in terms of intelligence, though lovers of bullets, explosions and gore may find certain aspects preferable in this more immediate, visceral approach.

With a new cast of characters and an expansion of the potentially apocalyptic scenario, 28 Weeks Later is harrowing when it needs to be, and delivers quite well during some of the scarier parts.  The acting is respectable across the board, with Byrne (Sunshine, The Dead Girl) and Renner (North Country, SWAT) making solid unlikely heroes, and the child actors, Muggleton and Poots, deliver well in demanding performances that require constant fear and emotional turmoil.  Their characters aren't exactly sympathetic, as their reckless actions make them the unwitting catalysts for the Rage virus continuation (blame it on the lack of parental authority).

There are some weaknesses.  For one, the injection of the family aspect of the film wears down the plausibility factor, and ups the predictability.  This particularly goes overboard when Donald is seen constantly at the forefront of the action on the zombie side.  If we are to believe that those afflicted with rage have no real intelligence, just unthinking killing machines out to infect or kill those not tainted, it is ridiculous that he should be following so closely on the heels of his children almost everywhere they turn.  It's also very easy to predict that at least one of the kids will be infected once they establish that their mother, with whom they share strong hereditary traits (it's even emphasized strongly in an early scene), is immune to the effects of the virus due to her genetic make-up.  As the kids jump out of one scrape or another, we have that sense all along that the virus is going to find a way to survive so long as the kids are alive.

28 Weeks Later is a successful because it delivers the goods expected for fans of the first series without being a complete regurgitation.  The end is a bit of a botch job, as we know where the film is going all along, and the final scene in particular is completely unnecessary, unless you really need to be fired up for the inevitable sequel to follow (indeed, 28 Months Later, the third and reportedly final entry is already being pushed).  Despite my quibbles, while it may not hold up to close scrutiny in retrospect, but while it's on, you should have no problem being properly engaged.     

Qwipster's rating:

2007 Vince Leo