28 Weeks Later
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
scr Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesús Olmo, Enrique López Lavigne
with Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton, Catherine McCormack, Idris Elba, Emily Beecham, Shahid Ahmed, Amanda Walker, Philip Scott
release UK/US 11.May.07
07/UK Fox 1h40
28 Weeks Later
Empty streets: Byrne, Renner, Muggleton and Poots

carlyle perrineau mccormack

28 DAYS LATER (2002)

28 Weeks Later Spanish filmmaker Fresnadillo (Intacto) takes the bracing originality of Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's uneven 28 Days Later and generates one of the most exciting action thrillers in years. It's even better than the first film, generating more consistent characters and keeping us thoroughly entertained from grisly start to creep-out finish.

Six months after vicious zombies infected with the rage virus overran his home, Don (Carlyle) joins the reconstruction effort. The American military is overseeing the repopulation of zombie-free London, and Don is reunited with his children (Poots and Muggleton), who were abroad during the outbreak. But everyone's shocked when Don's wife (McCormack) turns up alive. Could she be a carrier rather than a survivor? Sure enough, the family and a few Americans (medical officer Byrne, sniper Renner, pilot Perrineau) are soon facing another running, jumping army of the undead.

Fresnadillo and his cowriters wisely avoid the original's central flaw (a clunky plot-shift) and centre on what made that film so memorable (deserted London and the sprinting zombies). This action-packed film also plays on our deepest fears as it continually shifts gears, cranking up the action and propelling our terrified band of survivors right across the city, from the Docklands refugee centre in the east to Wembley in the northwest. The breathless pace pauses only briefly for scenes that are infused with an extreme subtext of impending terror.

The cast is very good, even if they don't have much to do as far as character development is concerned. Most intriguing are Byrne and Renner as officials caught between their ruthless orders and their internal compassion (yes, the political undertone is unambiguous). Meanwhile, Carlyle is a terrific bundle of energy from start to finish.

The fact that the fairly straightforward action-pursuit structure is combined with loads of intriguing subtext makes the film utterly gripping, thoroughly unsettling and even occasionally emotional. Wonky London geography and a couple of contrived plot points can't diminish the overall effect: a thriller that's genuinely thrilling. And it's packed with astounding, unforgettable sequences, such as the fire-cleansing of Canary Wharf and the helicopter-cleansing of Regent's Park. Too cool.

cert 18 themes, language, strong violence, sexuality 11.Apr.07

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© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall