(director/writer: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo; screenwriters: Rowan Joffe/E. L. Lavigne/Jesus Olmo; cinematographer: Enrique Chediak; editor: Chris Gill; music: John Murphy; cast: Robert Carlyle (Don Harris), Rose Byrne (Scarlet), Jeremy Renner (Sgt. Doyle), Harold Perrineau (Flynn), Catherine McCormack (Alice Harris), Mackintosh Muggleton (Andy Harris), Imogen Poots (Tammy Harris), Idris Elba (General Stone), Emily Beecham (Karen); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Enrique López-Lavigne/Andrew Macdonald/Allon Reich; Fox Atomic; 2007)

“Its set pieces are mostly viewed through a night-vision rifle scope, which only made me feel groggy.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

“28 Weeks Later” is the apocalyptic zombie gore-fest sequel to “28 Days Later.” Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“Intacto”) replaces Danny Boyle (he stayed on as executive producer), and the original cast has also bailed out. It’s written by Rowan Joffe, Mr. Fresnadillo, E. L. Lavigne and Jesus Olmo. Fresnadillo’s movie tells of a contagious “virus” that has swept the entire British mainland, its raging psychotic victims have supposedly all died of starvation. There’s now a U.S.-led NATO force on the British mainland and they have established a maximum-security Green Zone for the quarantined survivors who have been decontaminated. When the time is ripe, the shell-shocked survivors are supposed to repopulate the island.

“28 Weeks Later” opens seven months after the tragic virus outbreak and after most of the UK population has been infected and reduced to slobbering rabid zombies who can run like sprinters. In a farm cottage, Don Harris (Robert Carlisle) and his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack) are holed up with four other survivors. But their peaceful survival is shattered when zombies attack the cottage and the cowardly Don, thinking only of himself, escapes alone leaving his wife to inevitably die. When their children, Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots), return from a school trip in Spain to the east London ‘Green Zone,’ they reunite with their father who explains their mommy died and he couldn’t help. Well, the kiddies climb on a moped and flee the safe Green Zone to visit their cottage in a desolate London, and find mommy miraculously alive and that daddy is a cowardly liar. Their mommy is found to be a carrier of the virus, but because of her ‘special blood’ she doesn’t become a zombie. In any case, the virus isn’t quite as extinct as the smug army thought (think Bush and Mission Accomplished!) and this calls for drastic measures.

The army goes to ‘code red,’ which means that they aim to wipe out the entire population with their snipers. This causes a panicky stampede. But Scarlet (Rose Byrne), a medical officer interested in doing further research on the virus, and Sgt. Doyle (Jeremy Renner), a sniper with a conscience, act to save Andy and Tammy. A more reluctant hero is the family-man chopper pilot, Flynn (Harold Perrineau), who arranges to rescue them in Regent’s Park. The film’s main bite, is that it has the peacekeepers as both the most benevolent and brutal ones in the story, which might be taken as a comment on topical events in Iraq (but things were just too fuzzy to take anything in this flick seriously!).

I found the sci-fi film gritty and stylish but lacking quality, its characters undeveloped, the acting weak, its entertainment value very little because the story was so bleak, and the whole venture was bordering on the moronic without the humor of a Romero zombie flick to give it a good kick in the ass. Its set pieces are mostly viewed through a night-vision rifle scope, which only made me feel groggy. The fast moving camera also made it difficult to follow all the brutality and be clear of what was happening, or for that matter really care what was happening since all the characters were superficially presented. The ending points to another sequel, in a franchise that has already worn out its welcome with me.