|Star:||Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns|
|Cert / Year:||18 - R / 2002|
Jim wakes up from a coma to find himself in a deserted hospital. He wanders out into the streets of London and finds no one. When he does find a person they are in a rabid state and he is attacked. He is rescued by Selena and Mark and they explain that they are survivors of deadly virus that has swept the country. A virus which turns its victims into mindless highly contagious killers. Along with another couple of survivors Hannah and her dad Frank they now have to flee the city hoping that somewhere out there a safe place still exists.
Strange this week I have reviewed two films that are based on ideas from other films, and both have chosen a fundamentally different approach to the process. Whereas Equilibrium opted for the blockbuster style, 28 Days Later opted for realism. This choice of realism has proved to be the correct one, with the end result being an effective and totally unnerving film.
As mentioned this film is based on other ideas elements from films such as Omega Man, Romero's of the Dead series, Day of the Triffids, Survivors TV series and the totally underrated The Quiet Earth (some have compared it to Resident Evil which is silly as this is just a rip off of Romero's work). Many people have described it as a horror film or a zombie movie, but this is really not understanding the film. Yes the infected are a little zombie like (but they at least move much faster), but they are not the main focus of the film. This is a story of survival. Forget the gore this is a classic piece of "what if" science fiction.
Danny Boyle is a man who is at home with British productions and knows how to use a limited budget. What he has achieved with the opening scenes in a deserted London is amazing. Clever use has been made of early morning shooting, shutting roads, and CGI to produce some of the most shockingly memorable images ever. Watching Jim wander round the empty streets is really freaky and it builds the atmosphere for what is to come. The early morning lighting adds to this effect and the beautifully composed shots are in short just brilliant.
The cast are largely unknown actors, but are well selected because of the everyday looks. They all put in excellent performances and full credit must be given to Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson and especially to the young Megan Burns. Also keep a look out for Danny Boyle regular Christopher Eccleston who turns up as the leader of a bunch of soldiers.
The story is very well crafted and is generally believable. The biggest problem with this type of film is that the plot will have the characters do stupid things just to progress the story. Thankfully here this isn't so, and this must be a first for this type of film. For example they all aren't armed to the teeth, but when they do find a weapon they do use it. More importantly they stay focused on survival. Simple things I know but never has it been implemented so well. This is believable because these are normal people with normal resources trying to cope with an extraordinary situation.
If there is a fault with the film then it is when they meet the soldiers things do get bogged down a little. However the infected verses the army shoot out scene is spectacular ( Dog Soldiers please not this is how it should have been done). I can't help feeling though that it would have been nicer if time in the soldiers camp had played a much smaller part. Another problem is highlighted by the extras on the DVD and that the decided upbeat ending just doesn't sit well with the rest of the film. The original ending (with the two surviving characters leaving the hospital) was far darker and much better.
28 Days Later is a brilliant film. It is a dark vision of a post apocalypse future, with a sense of realism hardly ever achieved in a film like this (maybe it hits home because of the current SARS virus). It is truly scary not due to the monsters but due to the lack of hope the main character experience. They are normal people like you and I and they are force to face overwhelming odds. This is coupled with the fact that everybody they knew is dead, and everybody that they now know they might have to kill at any second. Superb direction and acting and such a small budget just makes what has been achieved here even more impressive. This is definately the best British movie for some time, and one of the best movies this year.
The days are numbered.
|1.85 : 1 Anamorphic||Shot straight on digital video the transfer is as you'd expect very good.|
|Dolby Digital 5.1||Great soundtrack.|
|Audio commentary by Danny Boyle and Alex Garland|
|Making of featurrette (28 mins)|
|Deleted scenes including two alternative endings and commentary|
|Short Storyboard segment|
|2 animated Galleries with commentary by Danny Boyle|
|Jacknife Lee music video (warning this contains major spoilers)|
|Top quality transfer and some very interesting extras. The disc benefits from major input by the film makers. I have already mentioned the deleted scenes but other extras are good stuff.|