Tuesday, June 28, 2011

28 Weeks Later

Is this film as good as its predecessor? That is the inevitable question, fair or not, that always gets asked about a sequel. With 28 Weeks Later the answer is squarely no. This isn't a bad film, but it's just not as good as the first.

In 28 Days Later screenwriter Alex Garland created a handful of characters with real depth and emotion, characters that have clearly been changed by the events around them. They have adapted, survived, each in their own way.

In the sequel, four screenwriters have managed to do none of that. The characters here are completely one-dimensional, there is no development. They are introduced, given a bit of background, and then we learn nothing else about them. When they die, it's hard to care.

And die they do. One by one the cast is knocked off, though, most in ways that might come as a surprise. Twenty-eight weeks after the outbreak of the rage virus, the initial group of infected have been wiped out, and London has been secured. The U.S. military has moved in and set up a safe district, called the Green Zone, and now protects some 15,000 survivors.

When the virus is reintroduced, the U.S. Army does its best to contain the infection. When that fails, they go to Plan B: Wiping everyone out and laying waste to the Green Zone. Survivors must now contend with the infected and the military. The Army of course has snipers, napalm, flamethrowers, and nerve gas.

The story follows an Army doctor and an AWOL sniper as they try to smuggle out a kid who may just hold the key to immunity. If the infected don't get them, the Army probably will.

In spite of all its flaws, 28 Weeks Later is a passable thriller in its own right. Will it be remembered as the classic its predecessor was? That's doubtful. But it's definitely miles above any of the other horror sequels clogging your Netflix queue.

Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo • R • 2007 • 99 minutes

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