While 28 Days Later was more of a character driven horror movie, 28 Weeks Later notches the action to full steam ahead and the result is not bad. Actually, the result is quite good and is about as good as someone can ask from a sequel of a highly amazing and successful movie. This time helmed by Juan Carlos Fresnadill, of whom I have only seen Intacto. Now, I liked Intacto a lot but not so much that I was excited by the prospect that 28 Weeks Later was to be directed by Fresnadill. To me it required Danny Boyle’s portrayal of intensely human characters in a highly difficult and compelling situation and his kinetic, adrenaline rushed and moving at a breakneck speed (barely stopping for breathers) style was required. So, I sat down to watch how 28 Weeks Later turns out. And, boy, was I wrong in thinking that it couldn’t live up to the original. Because 28 Weeks Later is a beautifully shot, well acted and fast paced sequel that quite aptly lives up to the success and brilliance of the original.
In one of the most poignant movie openings, 28 Weeks Later, starts off in a small cottage in the suburbs of London where six survivors are residing: an elderly couple who own the cottage, a young girl whose boyfriend left the cottage some time ago, another man and a younger couple whose children are away on a school trip, much to their relief. In the middle of a meal, they answer knocking at the door and in comes a young terrified boy. Soon a group of rage infected zombies attack the cottage. Don (played by the ever brilliant Robert Carlyle) tries to escape with his wife (Catherine McCormack) who insists on taking the boy with them, too. Meanwhile the zombies are attacking everyone in view. Fearing for his life, Don chooses to escape, deciding to leave his wife at the mercy of the survivors. He is clearly distraught about it, but the fear of his own life forces him to do this. And this opening scene establishes that this is going to be a much cruel take on the survivor, a much more brutal look.
After this scene, we are quickly told what happened 28 weeks after the outbreak of the virus. The zombies have starved, as was seen at the end of 28 Days Later, and mainland Britain is declared safe. Under the protection of U.S. led forces, the rehabilitation process begins. People are starting to move into the heavily guarded zones, slowly re-establishing the society. Into the camp come two children, the children of Don. They are the first children in the camp. Grieving over the loss of their mother, they decide to go to their house and take some mementos from there. They sneak past the guards and make their way to their home. There a surprise is waiting for them: their mother, Alice. Soon, the U.S. forces come and take the children and the mother back to the camp. Their a doctor, Scarlet (Rose Bryne) runs some tests of the mother and finds that she is clearly infected but doesn’t have the symptoms. It means that their is something in her genes that provides natural immunity to the cure. And now starts the final act of the movie which mainly consists of running and fighting.
Now, one thing that Weeks fails to do is creating that essential humanizing feeling that was so perceptible and palpable in Days. Sure, the cast is brilliant and all give good, strong performances. But it is something lacking in the characters. But, it is not a major flaw as far as I am concerned because the movie barely stops to allow the audience think about it. It runs a little over an hour and a half and is very fast paced. At all times the audience are on the edge of their seats, expecting something terrifying and totally out of the blue. The action scenes are pretty good, not just explosions (although there are a quite lot of those, too) and random gunfighting.
Talking about the acting, I think Jeremy Renner as Doyle, a sniper for the U.S. forces who doesn’t comply to his instructions because he develops a conscience, is perhaps the show stealer. His transformation from a bored, funny, nothing-to-do soldier to a man plunged in the middle of a war for survival is brilliant. Rose Bryne has a good role and she does it well. Idris Elba, who I believe is truly a great actor (anybody who has seen The Wire will agree) has a small but important role. Harold Perrineau (of the Lost fame) also has a good part.
All in all, the movie is a great watch. Falling short of the original in a few aspects, possibly plot and character development but high on action and nerve cracking scene, it is a must watch for the fans of the genre. Even if you’re not a fan of Zombie movies or horror films (like me, this is my first horror film in years), you will still definitely enjoy it.