“Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes according to plan.”

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Writers: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Enrique López Lavigne
Staring: Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle, Harold Perrineau, Mackintosh Muggleton, Imogen Poots
Release Date: May 11, 2007

Six months have passed since the Rage Virus has ravaged through London and all of Britain. We were introduced to the horror in 28 Days Later… (2002), and 28 Weeks Later (2007) takes us back into the infected streets. While it is nice to revisit a familiar respected story, 28 Weeks Later is not a direct relative to its predecessor. The movie attempts to grab at the evil of humanity and the desperation and savagery that Danny Boyle and Cillian Murphy captured in 2002, but it inevitably falls short of that pedestal. With that being said, 28 Weeks Later is still entertaining and if it was standing on its own merits, it’d be respected as a horror thriller. 28 Weeks Later is like the second child; sure seeing them take their first steps is awesome, but it will never be in the same stratosphere as your first child’s first strides.

28 Weeks Later opens Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack) living in a shacked up house isolating from the Rage Virus. Their worry about their children who are staying abroad is quickly overshadowed when their shelter is bombarded with infected. In a flee for survival, Don leaves his wife in the house alone as he runs away in an act of pure self-defiance.

Flash forward in time and Don is in London being reunited with his children Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton). He is explaining his new job and their new living space, but Don’s hidden guilt is brought to the forefront when his kids find their mother alive in their childhood home.

Alice has some sort immunity, as reported by head medical expect Scarlet (Rose Byrne). Hope is seemingly on the horizon, but again it is grasped away within an instant. Don goes and sees his wife and try and talk his way through what is sure to be a bad exchange. While Alice is strapped down to a girder for medical reasons and precautions, Don kisses her. Turns out that was not a good thing to do.

Don does not have the same immunity that Alice has. Don gets infected, mutilates Alice, and starts a breakout event within the military base. All hell breaks lose.

With individuals being shot and killed without limits, American soldier Doyle (Jeremy Renner) disobeys orders to shoot everyone on site. He finds himself in a gathering area of survivors, which happens to include Scarlet, Tammy and Andy. The story follows the four characters as they navigate through the increasingly dangerous streets and attempt to get escorted out of the region before further containment ventures are pursued.

Can we just address how it is America coming to save the day in London? It is the American military that is occupying the space. It is an American solider and doctor that lead the charge out and try and spearhead hope’s survival. While this is not necessarily surprising, it is a bit off-putting. It isn’t a wrong thing to do, but it was pointed out in the beginning opening titles and introductions that it was Americans helming the NATO effort.

What made 28 Days Later… so impactful was its subtle way of showing the audience that humanity is more deadly than any Rage Virus. 28 Weeks Later understands this and tries to emulate the same deeper story. As to how effective they are in doing so…well that is where this sequel falters a bit.

The “human nature is as volatile as the virus” mantra is far more on the nose with 28 Weeks Later. The family relationships between Don, Alice, Tammy and Andy automatically notch up the possibility for overexposure. It is left on a nice simmer after the opening scene, but when Alice returns to the camp that all changes. Don turning into an infected, then killing his wife, then infecting his son later in the movie (sorry for spoilers, but it came out in 2007, let’s be real) are all notches in a rope that an elementary school student attempts to climb.

When Don appeared in front of his son very conveniently, it was an eye-rolling moment. Sure, I get it that Don poisoned his relationship with his family when he left Alice in the window, so him killing them literally while also symbolically creates a nice round arc. However watching 28 Weeks Later, you know the layout of the track without even seeing ten feet in front of you. You can tell where the story is going to go in terms of the family dynamic.

I just got back to 28 Days Later… when Jim (Cillian Murphy) becomes an animal himself, but he still has humanity on the inside when he makes that joke to Selena (Naomie Harris) after rescuing her from the fucked up miscreants. I wish there was a scene as striking as that in 28 Weeks Later. When humanity is rediscovered. Doyle immediately knows that the order to kill humans is bad. Scarlet never turns animalistic, she is always golden. The one who turned into something as evil as the virus is Don, but because of the family aspect, the subtlety of the metaphor isn’t as much of a knockout.

The character that think most logically about human life and its cost and value is Stone (Idris Alba). Stone is the leader of the military post overseeing this specific region of London. There is supposed to be no contamination, and if there is, Stony knows what he must do. Stone orders his soldiers to shoot down both infected and uninfected, and then when he sees it has gone too far, he orders the city to be firebombed. I suppose it makes sense that he is named Stone. He is hard as a rock, with little emotion. It is all calculation. He is not shown dying or dead in 28 Weeks Later, but some would argue his soul already is.

Now, for a burning question.

Can there be another sequel in this franchise?

I think it is a distinct possibility. There is a built in title, 28 Months Later. Looking at the financial aspect; these movies are well known and respected, specially 28 Days Later…. There is a built in audience that would go and see it for the franchise aspect, and those who would see it out of fondness for the original (that’d be me).

If you want to set it even more in the future, why not 28 Years Later? You want to make the Rage Virus even more scary? How about it blasts through the literal and metaphorical barriers of the world after it learned to deal with COVID-19? Taking place in 2035, you can start it out with the world looking back on COVID-19 15 years later, and what it has learned on disease control and prevention. Naturally, that is not the case though. You start out this virus in China, which has been ridiculously stringent on COVID, and you set the precedent that it can go anywhere and thrive anywhere.

There are things that can be explored, and in the age of viral disease paranoia, a sequel to 28 Days Later… and 28 Weeks Later could really work.

28 Weeks Later is streaming on HBO Max.

STANKO RATING: B (3.0/5 Stars)

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