28 Weeks Later (2007)
The US military has enough public image problems around the world; it really doesn't need 28 Weeks Later making things worse. Admittedly, I don't think it was director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's intent to make them look bad, but if this movie were based on actual events, I think the international community would start associating the arrival of the US army with impending doom. Before I proceed, let me just say that I had fun watching the movie. It was tense, well acted, and mostly well written. It's just that as I was leaving the theater, my main thought was that I could come up with a better containment plan than the soldiers in this movie. Of course, if their plan had been better, it would have been a very short story, but I don't like having to make allowances in logic for the sake of moving the script along. I don't want to go into too many details, but let me just give one question: What self-respecting military commander gives a civilian full access to everything, at all times, including quarantined areas? Correcting that oversight alone would have helped the situation immensely. But as I said, I don't think the skills of the military were really the point of the movie, so I'll stop there and let you make your own call after you see it.
After a tense beginning (which I don't want to ruin) set during the time period of the first movie, 28 Days Later, we see two kids, Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton), being reunited with their father Don (Robert Carlyle), who's living in an island safe zone established by a US-led NATO force while the rest of the UK is being cleaned up. The military is confident that all the infected have starved to death by now, so cleanup is just a matter of time. Precautions are being taken, though, since every new arrival to the safe zone gets a health screening, and there are backup plans in case something goes wrong. The soldiers are mostly bored, but then, of course, something does go wrong, and the backup plans have to be brought into play.
The movie is really about fear and guilt, and the things they make us do on individual and collective levels, and how those actions come back to haunt us, sometimes catching others along with ourselves. Don does something in the beginning of the movie that he spends the rest of the movie trying to erase, ultimately leading to the new outbreak. The actions of others, military and civilians, only make things worse. This theme is where the writing excels, bringing the movie up a notch.
Unfortunately, the movie's brought down a notch again for me by a camera technique that I find personally irritating; you've probably seen it, where the camera is swooping back and forth, and the cuts are a quarter of a second long, and you really can't tell what's going on at all. A little of this is effective. You can relate to the feelings of the characters: confusion, chaos, input coming too fast to process. But too much of it, and you get tired of not knowing what's going on. Who just got hit in the head? Good guy or bad guy? Who's still alive? What was that thing? I'd rather see what happens to characters, even briefly known ones, than have to infer it afterwards.
Other times they get the action just right, though: tense, well-paced scenes and claustrophobic camera shots. Scenes of the desolated city rival those from the first film, and there's a brilliant sequence in a body-strewn subway where the only source of sight for a group of people is the night scope of a single rifle.
Do I recommend this movie? Yes, it's one you probably want to see. But I think it could have been much better.