Review

28 Weeks Later Review

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May 11, 2007 | 4:37am EDT

With 28 Weeks Later being a sequel to 28 Days Later surely you weren't expecting normalcy to sweep over a still-rebuilding London right? The movie opens with one of the more memorable sequences in recent years—that is if you can refrain from covering your eyes and ears. Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife (Catherine McCormack) are amongst a houseful of sitting ducks who think they've outrun the last of the Rage-infected. It's not long before Don leaves his wife for (un)dead as he runs like hell to save himself. Cut to 28 weeks later when the last of the infected have seemingly died off and London is close to achieving that aforementioned sense of normalcy albeit with a caveat: It is only inhabitable in a quarantined "green" zone. Slowly British refugees are being allowed back in. Among them are Don's kids (Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Poots) who are devastated about what apparently happened to their mum and eager to venture to their old house. So they do slipping through the security barriers set up by the U.S. military that now guards the city and in the process they—by way of a massive plot twist not to be revealed here—indirectly trigger the return of the virus. Now they're on the run from the infected and the trigger-happy American forces while being chaperoned by an American doctor (Rose Byrne) and sniper (Jeremy Renner). All hell once again has broken loose. Like 28 Days Later  28 Weeks opted to spend most of its likely modest budget on everything other than the cast. But as always an actor's talent can't be measured by his or her per-movie quote. Lost's Harold Perrineau as a helicopter pilot who serves as the eyes in the sky will be the only actor most people will recognize but his presence is mostly intermittent until the end. The true star is Carlyle whose name might draw blanks but not his vast resume (which includes Trainspotting  The Full Monty and Eragon). Carlyle's performance it's safe to say has two very different shades to it and both are compelling—let’s leave it at that! His onscreen kids newcomers Poots and Muggleton wind up with the most screen time and handle it like seasoned vets. It's always a risky proposition to have inexperienced child actors with big roles—in a horror movie no less—but these two deliver and make the wholly unrealistic seem more real. As do rising stars Renner (North Country) and Byrne (Wicker Park) both of whom give us some grownups to root for in addition to the kiddies. Trepidation is usually warranted with sequels especially when no one from the original has any involvement other than an exec-producer credit for the original’s writer and director. But this sequel doesn’t play by those rules. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo—whose thriller Intacto was highly regarded—has absolutely everything to do with that. He outdoes 28 Days’ director Danny Boyle visually creating images of a post-zombified London that are somehow scarily realistic. You can’t help but marvel at the end product and then ponder the logistical undertaking it must’ve involved. The director also knows how to frighten the living daylights out of us even if we know what is coming and when. When he puts his visual skills together with those scare tactics of his though that’s when unforgettable sequences are created like the assault-on-your-senses opening. Oddly enough however that kind of horror occasionally holds 28 Weeks back. When Fresnadillo doesn’t leave any room for daylight literally and figuratively the film can get a tad claustrophobic. The script is partly to blame. Initially clever the story evaporates in favor of Fresnadillo’s fun. That usually means our fun too but a break from the bleak every now and then wouldn’t hurt.

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