Archive for the ‘28 Weeks Later’ Category

313 – 28 Weeks Later

May 13, 2007

It’s seven months after the outbreak of the rage virus in London, and it appears that the disease has been eradicated. American troops are stationed throughout the city, which is now being repopulated. Among the new/old citizens are two children, the first minors to reenter the city. London is now a dystopia, much as it was in the similarly themed Children of Men, in which mistrust runs high and the government and military seem more antagonistic than beneficial.

It’s all safe, say the American soldiers. Mission accomplished, and all that. It’s safe to come back in. A dedicated military doctor wonders why the newest repatriates include children – “What if it comes back?” she wonders. “Then we kill it,” she’s told. I immediately felt safer.

Of course, the virus IS back, else there’d be no movie. In a prologue, a small band of survivors holes up in a secluded country cottage. When one answers the door to find an uninfected child, all hell breaks loose, culminating in one man’s decision to abandon his wife to the clutches of a rage-infested undead mob.

That man, Don (Robert Carlyle), is the father of the two new young arrivals to London, and now he has to explain how their mother died. Being the kind to spare his kids nightmares and to avoid probing questions, he fudges the truth a bit. Next thing you know, the kids are scampering across the Thames to visit their old home, against the express orders of the military, which deems most of London to be very unsafe, rife with disease and pestilence and the like. These are not smart kids.

You can see where this is going. The rage virus makes its return, spreading extremely quickly from person to person, and suddenly it’s a race against time to get the kids out of London. Now, in all honesty, there’s a good reason they have to make it out of the city, other than preserving their own lives, but I won’t spoil it here – I point this out merely to show that there is, indeed, a logical reason to hold their lives as more valuable than those of the adults around them.

But the trouble with 28 Weeks Later is that it’s largely uninvolving, boring crap. The people, except for that Army doctor (Rose Byrne) and an intrepid, ethical soldier (Jeremy Renner), are largely stupid. And I don’t mean just that they’re all one-dimensional characters, it’s that they do dumb things that cause all sorts of mayhem to rain upon them. Things like hugging a woman who may carry the rage disease. Or kissing a woman who may carry the rage disease. Breaking into a security facility to do the latter. That sort of thing. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

The second problem with the movie is that there aren’t nearly enough zombie attacks. There are some, sure, but they’re isolated and feel mighty stagy. Compare the scene in which the doctor and her charges attempt to get out of the city by car with the one in Children of Men in which Clive Owen attempts to escort the first pregnant woman in a generation out of the city. In one, you know the characters will run into a series of obstacles that they’ll likely overcome, but in the other, there’s no certainty at all – anything could happen.

The third problem is that much of the movie’s action scenes feel as if they’re part of a really bad music video. I’m talking choppy editing with quick, dizzying cuts – this is not a movie for those suffering from vertigo or epilepsy. The action moves so quickly that I literally could not tell what was happening, which can hardly be the point. It reminded me of being in the middle of Space Mountain at Walt Disney World. I saw flashing lights and heard screams, but that was about it. Just poor, poor editing and cinematography.

If this was supposed to be a commentary on the dangers of a having the military run a city, whoopee doo – we’ve seen this kind of junk before. I get it: military bad, citizens good. This movie ups the ante a little bit by actually firebombing London, a sort of Blitz II, but the effect would be the same if I were playing the old Nintendo video game Contra. Because the outbreak’s so bad, you see, the soldiers are ordered to waste everyone they see. Everyone’s a target. Including, apparently, the audience.

28 Weeks Later isn’t just bad in the sense that most sequels are bad, it’s bad in the sense that it manages to replay all cliches about dystopian societies, and End Days plagues, and so forth without giving us the goods of zombie attacks, which is what we came for.

**