This movie proves, once and for all, that someone involved in the 28 ___ Later franchise really hates the army. At least this time, they’re only stupid and mindless, instead of stupid, mindless AND outright evil. This time, the soldiers are American, demonstrating that scumminess and incompetence are traits shared by all members of the armed forces, everywhere. They’re here to help reinstate the British survivors to their country, but they seem more interested in spying on people for shits and giggles.
This movie is bigger than 28 Days Later. A lot bigger. With a lot more special effects, some of which like as realistic as an Atari game. They really pulled out all the stops here. Whereas 28 DAys focused on survival in the wake of an epidemic, here we actually get to see the epidemic. We get to watch the rage virus spread, watch nice people turn into horrible red-eyed monsters, and the results are…thrilling. And scary.
28 Weeks Later is a bit of a step down from 28 DAys Later, but not nearly as bad as most sequels. It’s greatest weakness is in the many plot contrivances that move the movie forward. The soldiers in this movie, assigned to protect the island of Britain during its repopulation, make so many skull-numblingly bad decisions that you have to wonder whose side they’re on. Maybe they saw this as a great opportunity to wipe out all the brits and get revenge for the Revolutionary War or something.
The crowning jewel of idiocy has to be the moment when, upon learning that there are several infected people running around the ‘safe zone’, they herd everyone into a tiny, cramped underground room. And then turn out the lights, because…actually, I don’t think anyone knows. Yeah, who could have guessed THAT wouldn’t end well?
It doesn’t end well, and when the panicked masses start streaming into the streets, pursued by the infected, the soldiers’ solution is to shoot everyone. Wow. That’s cold. I suppose from a strategic standpoint it makes sense…or at least it makes sense as long as there’s a huge mob of screaming people and you can’t tell who’s infected and who’s not. Less sense once you’re lighting Jeremy Renner on fire for trying to save a couple of clearly un-infected kids. But I guess I’ll get to THAT later.
The strange part is that when the orders were to guard the streets earlier in the movie, thee troops spent most of their time watching people having sex via the scopes of their sniper rifles. Now that the orders are to murder innocent people, little kids included, they are all suddenly incarnations of professionalism, setting to their grim task with so much gusto you’d think they were playing paintball. In fact, they are so dedicated to slaughtering everyone that they are even willing to risk their lives to pursue and fire at a group of fleeing protagonists who are obvious NOT infected (since they are hiding and shooting back). Oh, did I mention this virus acts in about 28 seconds? SO it’s not like these people are carrying the disease and need to be killed to preserve the quarantine. But hey, orders are orders, right? I mean, shirking on guard duty is one thing, but shirking on genocide? That’s just morally wrong.
Anyway, questionable military decisions aside, 28 Weeks Later is a pretty good movie. It’s not deep, nor is it meant to be. It doesn’t seem to want to grace you with kernels of wisdom about the blackness of the human soul to the same extent that its predecessor did. It’s gory, exciting, fast-paced, and even, at times, intensely moving, in a heart-breaking, stomach-churning sort of way.
Funnily enough, the most well-acted, compelling character (played by Robert Carlyle) ends up being a zombie monster for half the movie. I suppose that’s ok, since most of the emotional scenes are in the first 40 minutes, and after-that, it’s just a well-done disaster flick.
Though there’s a lot of great scenes, a lot of memorable deaths, the one that stands out the most is when Robert Carlyle’s character comes upon his wife (who he had left for dead earlier)
strapped to a hospital bed. Not knowing she is actually a carrier (I guess the soldiers had SOME justification for shooting everybody) he kisses her, tearfully explaining how glad he is that she’s alive and begging her to forgive him for running away. Well, her kiss gives him the disease, and then she has to watch while her loving husband transforms before her eyes, realizing she’s subjected him to a fate worse than death. Then, of course, he turns on her, and she, strapped down as she is, can do nothing as he kills her by…well, actually I’m not even going to describe it.
That just has to be the most horrible thing ever, which is high praise for a horror movie.
So, in short, not exactly high art, not even as high as what came before, but it’s a fun horror film with a lot of well-conceived and well-executed scenes designed to maximize carnage and terror. Oh, and the best part? The awesome music is back!