28 Weeks Later (2007)
|28 WEEKS LATER
2007, Dir. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Review by Gnoll
I’m guilty as charged. I’ve never seen 28 Days Later, the Danny Boyle film that begat the sequel 28 Weeks Later. I like Danny Boyle and all, but I hate fast zombies. The explanation by many people that the antagonists in the film aren’t really zombies didn’t help matters, and I just never got around to seeing it. Now that I’ve seen its sequel, I’ll go back and watch it. After all, it’s got to be better than 28 Weeks Later.
28 Weeks Later isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s actually paced pretty decently for much of the movie and really does a good job building suspense. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo seems to be good at that part of directing. He’s just not very good at shooting action sequences, and there are a lot of them here. The shaky cam technique and gratuitous close-ups of gore distract from the overall film, but other than that, it’s a pretty decent technical achievement. In fact, the film’s climax, which takes place in a tubeway tunnel and is shot almost entirely in night vision, is pretty haunting stuff and really outshines the rest of the film. It’s just that there are some really, really, really major flaws here.
Oh, and unless you’re really new to the site, you should already know to expect some really major spoilage.
To catch you up, the film starts off with a group of refugees in a boarded-up house trying to hide from the “infected”, presumably during the timeline of the first film. A scared kid shows up seeking shelter, but he’s trailed by a horde of sprinting not-quite-zombies, and they quickly lay waste to everyone inside. Everyone, that is, except for Don, who abandons his wife Alice like a chickenshit and darts off to get away from certain doom. 28 weeks later (hey, wouldn’t that make a great title?), he’s reunited with his son Andy and daughter Tammy, and finds himself under the protection of the US Military in a “safe zone”. But kids will be kids, and Tam and Andy defy the rules and leave the safe zone to go pick up some things from their house, where they find that their mother has managed to survive. The family’s reunited once again, but two things remain unresolved: first, Don’t got some ’splainin’ to do, and then there’s the whole matter of the virus that Alice is carrying around with her.
Up until now, the movie isn’t too bad. It’s just that the major flaws soon start to bare themselves. For starters, Don decides to enter the room where his wife is being held, but despite the military knowing she’s a carrier, there’s not a single person guarding her. In fact, there seems to be hundreds of military personnel hanging out at the beginning of the film, and then all of a sudden there are like six guys trying to secure an entire quarantined area. For crying out loud, as much as they tried to emphasize the whole “don’t leave the green zone” thing at the beginning, they sure do make it easy for two children to escape on fucking foot. Now, this could just be lazy exposition, or it could be one of the many thinly-veiled swipes at the U.S. military that come into play here. It’s hard to tell. Either way, it’s pretty glaring, and kind of sets up a chain reaction of other things that bothered me.
The film quickly turns into a by-the-numbers chase flick. A handful of survivors get out while the military calls “code red”, exterminating every person they see, infected or not. Along with Tammy and Andy, there’s the rogue sniper who can’t bear to shoot the innocent, the medical officer who is there to ensure the kids get out alive, and a handful of other unnamed characters who you just know are going to be picked off one by one as the film progresses. They find shelter, then have to escape carpet bombing. They find shelter again, zombies attack. They find shelter yet again, toxic gas threatens them. It’s all predictable and trite, and the payoff each time is more shots of our surviving protagonists running away, but with the added annoyance of someone holding a camera and running with them. To top it off, each scene acts like a money shot full of iconic British landmarks, just in case the American accents make you forget that this all takes place in London. Look kids! Big Ben! Parlaiment!
There’s a helicopter decapitation scene which might even convince Scotty that you can change the laws of physics. I don’t mind some liberties taken with science in what is ultimately a science fiction film, but it might have been a lot cooler had I not just seen it a few weeks ago watching Grindhouse. The difference is that you weren’t supposed to take that film seriously.
Oh, and then there’s the whole matter of Daddy showing up every five minutes in the film. Every other “infected” person seems to be able to do nothing but indiscriminantly sprint at and destroy other people, yet Don seems to be able to meticulously track down and stalk his runaway kids. Now, had they explained this with some sort of hanging desire for protection or something in the end, it might have worked, but all he wants to do is smash their heads in and eat their flesh. However, there appears to be no reason whatsoever that would make him have a specific desire to go after them.
There’s also the thing I don’t understand about the “rage virus” that is most likely just as puzzling in the first film. You see, I get zombies. I have immersed myself in dozens of films where they serve as the major source of drama, and I get why they do what they do. They’re dead. They only feed on the living. They have no desire to eat the dead, because they’re predators and not scavengers. It makes sense. But with the 28 insert-time-period-here later virus, the “infected” are still alive. However, they only attack the uninfected. It just seems to me that the result of the infection should be just like the hate plague from the “Return of Optimus Prime” episode of the Transformers, where you just want to bash the skull of whomever you can find, infected or not. It’s pretty sad when one of the most universally-panned episodes of a kids’ cartoon series tells a story better than a major motion picture. If this is something that was explained away in the first film, feel free to let me know, but it really doesn’t make a lot of sense.
And then, finally, the film ends, and Andy and Tammy are safe and sound and being flown to possibly save the world. Except there’s one problem — the protagonists in the film are the reason all this shit got started to begin with. Had they not so blatantly disobeyed their orders and skipped the green zone, then their mother would have likely died from infection or starvation before long, and the whole mess could have been avoided. So this whole movie goes by, and I’m just praying for them to die. Sure, you can blame the military for not doing a good enough job of keeping them contained, but it doesn’t change the fact that they were ultimately to blame, and yet they seem to be the only ones to get out in one piece. Lousy fucking kids.
Oh, and let’s not forget the final teaser, which makes me feel like I just sat through a two-hour trailer for yet another sequel. Somehow, the infection is spread to Europe’s mainland, and just like every other lazy filmmaker does when they’re trying to establish that this scene takes place in France, the fucking Eiffel Tower is in the background. When Trey Parker and Matt Stone poked fun at this in Team America: World Police, I thought for a moment that filmmakers might think twice before doing such stupid shit. I was wrong.
For the most part, I kept feeling like I had already seen this movie, and it was called Children of Men, except that they added the zombies from the craptacular 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. The difference was that Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film was my favorite movie of that year, and this one is currently vying for the title of worst film I’ve seen so far in 2007.
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