written by Alex Garland and directed by Danny Boyle. This time around, Garland and Boyle were preoccupied with their sci-fi thriller SUNSHINE so they only served as executive producers on this film. They did handpick director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (who made something of a splash with INTACTO). Fresnadillo was also one of four credited screenwriters on the film; the others include Rowan Joffe (the son of director Roland Joffé and actress Jane Lapotaire), producer Enrique López-Lavigne and Jesús Olmo. Now, I'm not exactly sure why it takes so many writers to craft a screenplay about a post-apocalyptic situation but in some ways I kept thinking back to 2006's CHILDREN OF MEN (which also had several credited writers). In some ways, this is the flip side of that film.
28 WEEKS LATER actually begins in a period that overlaps with the first movie. A group of individuals have sought refuge in an old farmhouse in rural England. Among them are Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack). We learn that they have two children who were sent on holiday in Spain and are presumably safe (although in the first movie there were reports that the virus had spread across the world -- a minor flub but one that makes some of the events in this film a bit questionable. I guess we are supposed to think it was some sort of disinformation being spread.) Before long, the "infected" attack this bucolic refuge. Alice attempts to rescue a young boy which causes Don to leave her behind and run for his life. He barely escapes and Alice is presumably turned into one of the undead.
Some six months later, Britain is being repopulated under the watchful eye of the American military. Among those allowed back into the country are Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton), the children of Don and Alice. Don is there to greet them and he basically tells his kids a story about how their mother died, leaving out the part about how he cowardly ran off and left her alone to fend for herself. Well, Karma's a bitch and Don gets his payback. Especially after Tammy and Andy sneak out of the controlled area and head back to their home in order to "rescue" items like photographs and articles of clothing. At the house, Andy discovers his mother Alice is still alive. Indeed, she's something of a medical miracle -- having clearly survived an attack. A medic named Scarlet (Rose Byrne) discovers that Alice is a carrier -- she has the "rage virus" in her bloodstream but she's apparently asymptomatic.
When Don and Alice have a reunion, something goes awry and the virus is unleashed again leading the US Army to implement a Code Red, basically a quarantine. That too gets screwed up and you'll have to see the movie to find out how, why, and what happens.
For some, this movie will be a disappointment. It's not as erudite as the first film which in some ways could have been read as an allegory for the spread of AIDS or any other communicable disease. The first half of the film works well as the characters are established. In addition to Carlyle's Don and his family and Byrne's medico, two other main characters emerge: an American sniper named Doyle (Jeremy Renner) who becomes disgusted by the implementation of Code Red and all that it entails, and his buddy, helicopter pilot Flynn (Harold Perrineau). What's particularly fascinating about the film is how the point of view shifts constantly and how there really isn't any one "lead" character (like Cillian Murphy in the original). Here, the story fluidly shifts focus from Don and Alice to Tammy and Andy to Scarlet and Doyle to Flynn and back again.
The camera work by Enrique Chediak is interesting but some key sequences suffer a bit because of the director's insistence on hand-held shots. What's on screen mirrors the panic of the characters but it becomes a bit confusing for the audience. It's the same sort of problems I have had with these large-scale epic films that feature battle sequences. I lose some interest because I cannot tell who is doing what to whom. (Examples includes everything from realistic movies like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN to fantasy features like THE LORD OF THE RINGS films. They are amazing to watch in that how did they do that manner, but as far as moving the action forward, they can be confusing, especially if the casts -- or the extras -- are not terribly distinguishable.)
Ultimately, 28 WEEKS LATER works on its own merits as a scary and enjoyable thrill ride. There's also the requisite set up for the next part -- one can hazard a guess what has happened and who is responsible -- so I'm sure we'll be seeing yet another installment of this series in a few years.
Rating: B MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and gore, language and some sexuality/nudity Running time: 91 mins.