Let’s get one thing straight first – I didn’t like 28 Days Later, but this sequel has a different director and cast, so I’m all for giving it a chance. In fact, it has the best opening 10 minutes to a film I’ve seen in a long time.
In 28 Weeks Later, we’re six months down the line and the virus is no more, since the last of the Infected – zombies whose only mission is to infected those who are still okay – died after the first five weeks and the US Army moved in some time later to restore order. Now, Don (Robert Carlyle, below right) is getting his life back together, has a job as a support officer for the community and is rebuilding his life with his two children on the Isle of Dogs, and everyone thinks that this is step one for things getting back to normal, but surely if that was the case then there wouldn’t have been the need for this film…
For reasons that I don’t want to divulge here for fear of spoiling the plot but to still have something with which to fill this review, Don becomes a carrier of the virus. It is, therefore, vitally important, that his children, Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton), don’t get anywhere near him and when the shit really starts to hit the fan, they and some other members of the public are helped to safety by military members Scarlet (Rose Byrne – second picture down – Casanova, Sunshine), Doyle (Jeremy Renner) and Flynn (Harold Perrineau – Oz, Lost). Danny Boyle is not present as the main director, since he never likes to direct the same kind of film twice, but he was present behind the scenes as Second Unit Director, aiding the film-making process in his own, unique, style.
There’s a twist that happens before long and it’s rather on the predictable side, but the film can be forgiven for that since it’s what gives the film its point. In what follows, one scene results in a horrific bloodbath as the military order is given to not restrict themselves to shooting at the Infected – since identifying them quickly and effeciently becomes impossible – and the result is incredibly saddening.
However, I have to ask, why would anyone come back to live in the UK if it was so desolate? On the one hand, there’d always be a preference to return back to your home country, but if you can’t go back to your town and live the way you wanted to before, surely the only feasible option is to settle somewhere else? It’d be bloody hard to do, but needs must when the devil drives.
Also, this is meant to be happening 28 weeks later after the original infection, but since the original film was released in 2002, how come Wembley Stadium has finally been built in this sequel?
All that said, they’re not really on the Isle of Dogs because Don’s kids have just got off the Docklands Light Railway and they’re all at the tube entrance in Canary Wharf, but I’ll let that one pass…
The casting in this film is nothing short of excellent. The sheer panic on the face of Carlyle in the opening scene is as engaging as the look of relief on his face when he gets to meet up with his children some time later, as his regret about some of his earlier actions. It was a bit unexpected to see him become one of the baddies, but he looked like he had a good time doing it, anyway.
Rose Byrne and Jeremy Renner do a great job as the main military people we see in this film, although unlike his performance in Oz as wheelchair-bound Augustus Hill, Harold Perrineau has a role he could’ve phoned in. However, there’s great new finds in both Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton, and it was good to see Garfield Morgan (aka Frank Haskins from The Sweeney) making an appearance early on.
I also loved the poster in deserted pizza restaurant Casa Bella – “Our pizzas are NEVER delivered late”. That’s almost as good as the poster in Threads that read, “Standard Life – For all of your life.”
Everything that was so wrong about the original is so right in this sequel, and the end sets it up for another sequel, which I hope is left in the hands of this director.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio and is anamorphic with no problems whatsoever. The SFX as London is turned into a fireball to quell the Infected this time round are outstanding, and this comes at the point when a Code Red is issued, which is the term for obliterating everything in sight with a view to ridding the town of the Infected. In fact, this sequel absolutely pisses all over the first film… enough to put out that fire, even.
There’s also a particularly great shot – which I was hoping would happen – as a helicopter is dipped at an angle such that the blades slice through all the Infected baddies in its path. Wonderful stuff!
Again, the film it’s shot on handheld cameras at times in DV video, but an effect has been layered upon the print to make it look like it’s part of some Tron-like video game. It really brings home the feeling of desolation. Later on, as I watched it, I wondered – the name Flynn – is that the connection with the Tron look? ;)
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is spot-on, too. Put this DVD on loud and the blistering sound-effects editing will have you jumping out of your skin when the Infected come to visit. In addition, the score from John Murphy could not be improved upon what we have here as it keeps up the tension throughout.
The extras are as follows:
- Deleted scenes (5:01): With optional director/producer commentary, there are only two here and both in letterbox format. Short but sweet, I think for their own reasons, that to divulge here would be classed as a spoiler, they should’ve been included in the final cut.
- Code Red: The Making of 28 Weeks Later (13:07):Key cast and crew members talk about how the sequel came about and what would happen if there were only 500 people left in the country. Just don’t watch it before you see the movie.
This, and subsequent featurettes, are presented in 16:9 anamorphic.
- The Infected (6:57): A featurette about the actors behind this section of the cast.
- Getting Into the Action (7:13): More about the film-making process and about how there’s more action and more gore this time round.
- Audio commentary: from director/screenwriter Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and producer/screenwriter Enrique López Lavigne.
The DVD menus are static and silent following a short piece of action, there are subtitles in English for the hearing-impaired and there’s a decent amount of chapters with 28 spread throughout the 96-minute running time which is perfectly fine.
Running time: 96 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Released: September 10th 2007
Region(s): 2, PAL
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English for the hearing-impaired, English commentary
Disc Format: DVD 9
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Producers: Enrique López Lavigne, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich
Screenplay: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Rowan Joffe, Jesús Olmo and Enrique López Lavigne
Music: John Murphy
Donald Harris: Robert Carlyle
Scarlet: Rose Byrne
Tammy: Imogen Poots
Andy: Mackintosh Muggleton
Sgt Doyle: Jeremy Renner
Sgt Flynn: Harold Perrineau
Alice: Catherine McCormack
General Stone: Idris Elba
Sally: Amanda Walker
Jacob: Shahid Ahmed
Geoff: Garfield Morgan
Boy in cottage: Beans El-Balawi
Sam: Raymond Waring
Depot Man: Kish Sharma
Depot Woman: Jane Thorne
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.