First of all, let me apologize for the lateness of this review. Although the sequel to the 2003 movie “28 Days Later,” was released a few weeks ago, I’ve been so tied up with mindless summer blockbusters and other things that I haven’t yet gotten the chance to talk this one up. By the time you read this, there should still be time to see it, though probably not much as the multiplex continues to become filled with new product.
If you saw “28 Days Later,” you might remember how the “rage” virus infected millions of people living all over Great Britain. This movie picks up (you guessed it) 28 weeks after the initial breakout of the virus. A section of London is protected from the outside world in the Green Zone. Children are now being transported back to their parents from the countryside, where they were kept safe during the chaos. A boy and a girl arrive to meet their father, Don (Robert Carlyle). Don still feels awful because he left their mother behind in a cottage in the Scottish countryside while he ran for his life from the zombie-like creatures the virus turns people into.
The young boy is upset that he has no pictures of his mother, so his sister finds a way to escape to their London flat. There they find their mother still alive and the only person to be seen still holding on to her sanity. Of course, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t carry the virus, and here’s where the trouble begins.
Carlyle is a very versatile actor and is usually seen playing one of two opposite personality types. Many people remember as the deranged Begby from 1996’s “Trainspotting,” which was directed by Danny Boyle, also responsible for “28 Days Later (The new movie is instead helmed by a new man, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo).” Begby was about the only one in that film who wasn’t hooked on heroin, and yet he still managed to be scarier than about everyone else around him. Carlyle played a cannibal in 1999’s “Ravenous” and even Hitler in the 2003 television movie “Hitler: The Rise of Evil.”
On the entirely other end of the spectrum, Carlyle played a lovable working-class dad in “The Full Monty” and the lovable title character in the wonderful BBC detective comedy series “Hamish Macbeth.” Like I said, this guy can do it all. The beauty of his role in “28 Weeks Later” is that he gets to play both the loving father and a crazed madman, or in this case, zombie. Not to spoil anything, but his role isn’t quite as big as you might expect from the trailers. But that’s one of the exciting things about the movie. New characters are introduced through its brisk 99-minute running time, and you never know who will last.
What makes this movie stand out among your typical horror schlock is that the material isn’t treated like, well, horror schlock. The movie makes the audience wonder: how would I feel in this situation when my loved ones are infected and become something I don’t recognize as human?
It’s also worth noting that none of the characters from the first film are in this one. While that would weird with most sequels, it somehow works here. This is possibly because the movie feels like it’s about the circumstances the entire civilization finds itself in, rather than the problems of several characters.
With all that said, be warned. Some of the violence is very graphic. There were a few moments where I thought the camera would cut away, and it would … only to come right back to the grisly scene.
“28 Weeks Later” s rated R. No one admitted without a parent or guardian.