Published on May 11th, 2007 | by Mike Barnard0
28 Weeks Later
Cast: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Harold Perrineau, Jeremy Renner, Catherine McCormack
The fast moving zombie-like humans are back in a sequel that throws away a lot of early promise by tearing apart its own very fleshy story to expose boneheaded plot twists. Following the outbreak of the Rage virus which turns humans into super quick rabid killers in 28 Days Later, Britain has been quarantined leaving the infected to die of starvation: no meat means no meat-loving zombies. America has kindly stepped in to help make the country habitable again, but the clean up process is a slow one. After 28 weeks, and long before even London is rid of dead bodies, efforts to repopulate England’s capital begin on the Isle of Dogs in an area now known as District One. It’s a simple enough plan that inevitably falls apart dramatically, yet somewhere along the way the tension and drama is lost.
Central to the action is Don (Carlyle), one of the last few survivors who abandoned wife Alice (McCormack) fleeing from a hoard of ravenous Rage-infected humans. Now made a caretaker of District One, his children are flown back into the country to live with him. Don reluctantly tells them he saw Alice die, only for them to escape from a secure compound and find her. The secret to her survival brings with it a fresh outbreak of the Rage virus and another fight against the zombies, only this time the uninfected must escape before the US military carpet bomb London to stop the spread of the virus.
Starting with a calm dinner scene that gives way to Don’s frantic flight from the zombies, 28 Weeks Later fast-forwards to a deserted London under close military guard. A dark, brooding atmosphere of menace looms as the people undergo severe security checks to be allowed back into the country: never has the Docklands Light Railway and Canary Wharf ever seemed so uninviting. The tension that builds knowing it is going to turn nasty makes for gripping viewing, especially when Don’s kids escape from District One. The discovery of Alice adds a sense of moral dread for Don, but this is quickly extinguished to re-ignite the zombie threat. From then on it’s a full-blooded gore-fest as District One is battered with gunfire and bombs while humans are attacked left, right and centre.
Bringing on board highly-rated Spanish director Fresnadillo, who enthralled with his thriller Intacto way back in 2001, was probably intended to make 28 Weeks Later a similarly stylish production. His jerky camera adds the jitters while the eerie overhead shots of London evoke the power of those in 28 Days Later to provide plenty of atmosphere. However, to whip up an action frenzy he and the three other writers cruelly rob the film of drama in favour of a roller coaster ride of action. Sure, this is great news for horror fans, but there is a disregard for logic as one particular Rage-infected human keeps turning up in the most random places for most of the thrills: it gets more than a little tiresome. 28 Weeks Later fulfils the brief of bringing the Rage virus back to our screens in spectacular fashion and will be a winner for many, there is just a nagging feeling this all comes at the expense of a more accomplished effort if it had been given a little extra care and attention.