28 Weeks Later (2007) Movie Review

You have to wonder what the people who greenlit the screenplay to “28 Weeks Later” were thinking. Then again, maybe the fiscal need to produce a sequel and cash in on Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” from 5 years ago was the only impetus. The script, such as it is, was co-written by director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“Intacto”, here making his English-language directorial debut), and it seems more interested in scoring points with not-all-that-sly jabs at the current U.S. efforts in Iraq rather than, you know, making a half-decent film that can hold its own against the original. As a result, “28 Weeks Later” is one big mess — 40-something minutes of boredom and barely-there characterization followed by 50 minutes of running, shooting, bloodletting, and yes, very cool looking but hopelessly pointless firebombing.

In the aftermath of the Rage Virus infection, we learn that Britain has since been cordoned off by the rest of the world, and the infected believed to have all starved to death. Twenty-eight weeks later, a U.S.-led NATO force has begun repatriating Britons back into London under a heavy veil of security that will, inevitably, all be for naught. The lucky ones who return home were abroad when the Rage virus was unleashed, including two teen siblings who have been in a Spain refugee camp all this time. The project is under the command of Colonel Stone (Idris Elba, “The Reaping”), a stout military leader who seems to want to do good, but isn’t beyond slaughtering everyone at the drop of a hat if it all goes wrong.

The siblings are re-introduced to their father Don (Robert Carlyle, “The 51st State”), who when the film opens is hiding out with his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack, “Braveheart”) and other survivors at an English farmhouse. Alas, their refuge doesn’t last long, as the infected locates them and the slaughter is back on. In order to survive the ordeal, Don was forced to make a terrible choice. Fast-forward to the present, where Alice is found at the family’s house very much alive and, though infected, hasn’t “turned”. This spurs medical chief officer Major Scarlet (Rose Byrne, “Sunshine”) to find out why. Unfortunately, before she can uncover the secret of Alice’s apparent immunity to the Rage virus, another outbreak takes place, and Code Red, the total extermination of the repatriation program (and its “subjects”) is ordered by Stone.

There’s little surprise in store for viewers of “28 Weeks Later”, although if one were to give the film some credit, there is something brilliantly fiendish in the ways it brutally dispatches of its characters. Besides the two teen siblings, who are obviously untouchable from frame one, everyone else in the film is fair game. In fact, Fresnadillo kills off so many characters and so quickly, we are somewhat glad he never bothered to develop any of them beyond a few cursory personality traits before the fit hits the shan. Whenever you think the film has chosen a hero for the audience to root on, they are gruesomely killed off and we are back to square one.

Once the Rage virus re-surfaces at the 40-minute mark, “28 Weeks Later” is one long chase movie with no real direction. The characters themselves seem to come together to form a makeshift posse not because it makes sense, but because the script decided, “Yes, this is where everyone gets together!” It is also here that the politically left-leaning among you will latch onto a number of attempts at paralleling the military’s bloodthirsty reaction to “containing” the infection in the movie and Bush’s foreign policies in Iraq. Much of the film’s stabs at pandering to anti-U.S. military feelings are unsophisticated and odious, and can’t really be taken too seriously, lest they get more credit than they deserve.

The characters in “28 Weeks Later” are woefully lacking, not to mention poorly thought out. Actress Rose Byrne is a very lovely woman, and I have no doubt she’s talented, but casting her as an Army Major borders on the absurd. She is not only too young for the role in real life, but she looks too young, which makes it doubly worst. Jeremy Renner (“SWAT”), as a Special Forces sniper, has potential, but like everyone else in the film, the script barely makes any effort to flesh him out. The only other interesting character in the film is Harold Perrineau’s Flynn, a helicopter pilot who circles the city throughout the film. I’m still not sure what Flynn’s job is, besides to fly around with, apparently, no real assignment except to help out Renner’s Doyle, who has since gone off the reservation. Then again, nothing about the film’s military protocols make any sense, so why bother with Flynn’s job?

It’s hard to find a solid number for the budget of “28 Weeks Later”, but as this is a Hollywood sequel, it is safe to assume that whatever Danny Boyle had to work with in 2002, the fine folks in Lalaland tacked on a few extra (or dozen) millions to the sequel’s budget. Did it pay off? After a very good $19 million first week gross at the box office, “28 Weeks Later” quickly fell off, topping at just south of $29 million at the end of its theatrical run. Likewise in the UK, where the film opened to 3 million pounds, before topping off at 5 million. Overall, the film took in about $40 million worldwide. Once you add in DVD and TV sales, the sequel should be in the black. That is, unless the budget was much higher than expected.

So what does it all mean? Despite poor reviews and even poorer word of mouth (everyone who wanted to see the film saw it in its first week of release, and apparently didn’t like it enough to tell their friends to go, which explains the precipice drop at the box office from the first opening week), there’s little reason to believe that an as-yet-untitled third entry in the franchise will not be forthcoming. The series’ original director, Danny Boyle, has mention that he would be willing to return to the franchise he created and take the Rage virus to Russia. It’s a mystery why he seems to prefer Russia to continuing the storyline in a more logical fashion, by introducing it to the rest of Europe, as the ending of “28 Weeks Later” would seem to suggest. But perhaps a smaller budget, coupled with a more human-themed story, will resurrect the franchise.

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (director) / Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesús Olmo, Enrique Lopez Lavigne (screenplay)
CAST: Robert Carlyle … Don
Rose Byrne … Scarlet
Jeremy Renner … Doyle
Amanda Walker … Sally
Shahid Ahmed … Jacob
Harold Perrineau … Flynn
Catherine McCormack … Alice
Idris Elba … Stone


Buy 28 Weeks Later on DVD



About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • Aragami

    That was exactly my point and my bad that i didnt make myself more clear. I do watch movies from other genres (lol do i need to say that?). My point is that when i first watched it with my friends we all were quite content with the production BECAUSE we had known beforehand that we were gonna watch:
    1. A zombie horror movie
    2. A sequel crafted to make money
    That considered we only could enjoy it as a nice alternative to slow and decaying zombies of Romero. If you dont like the progression it offers you start nitpicking thats as obvious as the fact that if you didnt like the prequel you’re unlikely to enjoy its second part. I’m really happy i could see this movie as it provided me with fun and thrills and thanks for the crew for that. Damn if you think its crappy make a better one instead of wasting your life reading its review and comments lol ;)

  • Aragami

    That was exactly my point and my bad that i didnt make myself more clear. I do watch movies from other genres (lol do i need to say that?). My point is that when i first watched it with my friends we all were quite content with the production BECAUSE we had known beforehand that we were gonna watch:
    1. A zombie horror movie
    2. A sequel crafted to make money
    That considered we only could enjoy it as a nice alternative to slow and decaying zombies of Romero. If you dont like the progression it offers you start nitpicking thats as obvious as the fact that if you didnt like the prequel you’re unlikely to enjoy its second part. I’m really happy i could see this movie as it provided me with fun and thrills and thanks for the crew for that. Damn if you think its crappy make a better one instead of wasting your life reading its review and comments lol ;)

  • Ryan

    Movies like this (Resident Evil series etc.) are beginning to become more and more popular among society. They are going to form a new type of genre…epidemics. Although I didn’t think this pair of movies were entirely orignal, I did think they were very good. If you cross-reference the Resident Evil series and 28 Days/Weeks Later, you will find that they are the SAME thing. Humans make virus, humans get infected, humans kill EVERYONE, survivors go crazy and kill anything, everyone dies anyway despite your 2 hours and $10 wasted. Before you see these type of movies, you know what you are going to see. DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT REVIEWS AND DON’T MOAN AND GROAN ABOUT HOW BAD THIS MOVIE IS!

  • Ryan

    Movies like this (Resident Evil series etc.) are beginning to become more and more popular among society. They are going to form a new type of genre…epidemics. Although I didn’t think this pair of movies were entirely orignal, I did think they were very good. If you cross-reference the Resident Evil series and 28 Days/Weeks Later, you will find that they are the SAME thing. Humans make virus, humans get infected, humans kill EVERYONE, survivors go crazy and kill anything, everyone dies anyway despite your 2 hours and $10 wasted. Before you see these type of movies, you know what you are going to see. DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT REVIEWS AND DON’T MOAN AND GROAN ABOUT HOW BAD THIS MOVIE IS!

  • Grayson

    I like zombie movies. I thought this movie was alright.. I didnt see any political commentary, though some of my friends have told me otherwise. Maybe your looking too hard.. Its a sequel. What sequel has ever been better than the original. I dont believe it was supposed to be a duplicate, would you rather have followed the characters from the previous film through some dreary “lets start over ” bit… Oh wait…

    *The rage virus was supposed to be the entire opposite, they wanted to develope and infect a populous possibly the world with a permanent euphoria, they found a way to introduce it to people/chimps as they are, as everyone knows, close to us genetically, through a strain of polio.

    *Im sure youd been more disappointed had it been a book butchered for money than a sequal of a movie that wasnt really a zombie movie anyway. Danny Boyle executive directed as well as the writer of the original.. They had some say.. Its just an unfortunate mistake, a good idea diluted with dollar signs and ill intentions… or good intentions miss guided.
    *The moment you see the children you know your going to become emotionally involved. Whats wrong with knowing whats coming?, if you are one of those who (in some movies) can see whats gonna happen next. Like in No Country for Old Men, he gets hit by a car in the end, granted i came in probably about half way through the movie, as it did not interest me at ALL…. it was obvious. Why not just go for the ride.
    *It was a good idea that couldve had better execution. just another one of those things, like what if this album had been recorded with this producer instead of this one, if this character had been voiced by this person instead of who did it. Imagine this movie the idea and tone, entirely in the hands of Danny Boyle, same budget.. Same result?

    And by the way resident evil was a videogame, a good game gone sour, bad ideas will do that.. but thats hollywoods fault, theyre running out of ideas so theyre ripping, anime, videogames and books, probably music soon. (Videogames ruined by hollywood: super mario brothers, resident evil, doom, street fighter, mortal kombat, silent hill, dungeons and dragons, and soon to come Bioshock a great game and idea, soon to be zapped of all its nutrients, maybe Assassins Creed and god forbid Grand Theft Auto 4.. there are already books and movies that fully emmulate the gta theme… art imitating life.

    I am also most afraid of our government developing biologically engineered “weaponry”, its well known they dabble in things they shouldnt. where do you think all the best drugs come from? lsd namely.

    nice review all the same.

  • Grayson

    I like zombie movies. I thought this movie was alright.. I didnt see any political commentary, though some of my friends have told me otherwise. Maybe your looking too hard.. Its a sequel. What sequel has ever been better than the original. I dont believe it was supposed to be a duplicate, would you rather have followed the characters from the previous film through some dreary “lets start over ” bit… Oh wait…

    *The rage virus was supposed to be the entire opposite, they wanted to develope and infect a populous possibly the world with a permanent euphoria, they found a way to introduce it to people/chimps as they are, as everyone knows, close to us genetically, through a strain of polio.

    *Im sure youd been more disappointed had it been a book butchered for money than a sequal of a movie that wasnt really a zombie movie anyway. Danny Boyle executive directed as well as the writer of the original.. They had some say.. Its just an unfortunate mistake, a good idea diluted with dollar signs and ill intentions… or good intentions miss guided.
    *The moment you see the children you know your going to become emotionally involved. Whats wrong with knowing whats coming?, if you are one of those who (in some movies) can see whats gonna happen next. Like in No Country for Old Men, he gets hit by a car in the end, granted i came in probably about half way through the movie, as it did not interest me at ALL…. it was obvious. Why not just go for the ride.
    *It was a good idea that couldve had better execution. just another one of those things, like what if this album had been recorded with this producer instead of this one, if this character had been voiced by this person instead of who did it. Imagine this movie the idea and tone, entirely in the hands of Danny Boyle, same budget.. Same result?

    And by the way resident evil was a videogame, a good game gone sour, bad ideas will do that.. but thats hollywoods fault, theyre running out of ideas so theyre ripping, anime, videogames and books, probably music soon. (Videogames ruined by hollywood: super mario brothers, resident evil, doom, street fighter, mortal kombat, silent hill, dungeons and dragons, and soon to come Bioshock a great game and idea, soon to be zapped of all its nutrients, maybe Assassins Creed and god forbid Grand Theft Auto 4.. there are already books and movies that fully emmulate the gta theme… art imitating life.

    I am also most afraid of our government developing biologically engineered “weaponry”, its well known they dabble in things they shouldnt. where do you think all the best drugs come from? lsd namely.

    nice review all the same.