28 Weeks Later (the 2nd time around)
Last night I stopped by the dollar theater with Pablo to watch 28 Weeks Later for the second time. It'll be out on DVD soon, but I wanted to see it a second time in the theater. This will be more general musings than a proper review, and will contain spoilers, but I assume most of us have seen it, once.
What leaped out at me this time was the opening segment with Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, Ravenous) and Catherine McCormack (Shadow of the Vampire, Braveheart). This is the only scene that you can see the love between the two of them, but the first time I watched it I was so anxious for the action to start this scene blew past me. The passionate kiss they share here gets nicely juxtaposed with the later kiss that infects Carlyle. Of course the scene right after this is probably the most memorable from the movie, where the people in hiding get massacred and Carlyle abandons his wife to be eaten. It's one of those scenes that makes you wonder what you would do, save the woman you love or preserve your own ass so the kids will have at least one parent. The choice his character makes is a cowardly one, but you don't hate his character because of it.
Actually I think Weeks is a stronger film than it's predecessor in many ways. For one, there is a ton of social commentary in Weeks that you don't have in Days. It doesn't take a genius to see the American repatriation of London is a scathing look at our occupation of Iraq. The people on the ground have the best of intentions, but in a situation where they don't have all the facts they are forced to make hard choices that result in the deaths of innocent people. Also, Weeks has better shots of an empty London. In Days those opening sequences of an empty city set such a great tone for the film, and in the sequel we get a lot more of those shots, and on a bigger scale, really hammering home how large London is, and how desolate. I especially liked the overgrown football stadium. The infected action in Weeks is also a lot more vivid and frequent.
Enrique Chediak does a great job matching the cinematographic tone set by Anthony Dod Mantle in the first film. If you'd like to see more of Mr. Chediak's camera work I recommend you go see The Flock on Oct. 1st.
But Weeks suffers from a massive pitfall that will keep it from being on the same level as Days, and that is the film's premature ejaculation. I am of of course speaking of how what should have been the climax of the film happens a good hour before the credits roll. The U.S. Air Force fire bombing London is the strongest action sequence and most beautiful footage out of the film, and nothing that happens after that scene comes close to topping that level. Yes there are great scenes after that, like the scene where Jeremy Renner (Dahmer, North Country) gets turned into a S'more, but the fire bombing is really the climatic moment. After that, the tension is lessened, and by the time Rose Byrne (Sunshine, Marie Antoinette) is getting bludgeoned in the underground, you almost don't care anymore.
Apart from that, 28 Weeks Later is a strong sequel that keeps the tone of the first film while not becoming its clone.
5 our of 5.
© D. L. Noah, 2007