Movie Name: 28 Days Later
Studio: DNA Films
Release Date(s): November 1, 2002
MPAA Rating: R
A bicycle courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy) is injured in an accident and wakes up to a nightmare. The hospital he is in is deserted, and the streets of London are empty. As he wanders, he comes upon people infected with rage who want nothing more than to destroy and kill. Jim finds help from a woman named Selena (Naomie Harris), a father named Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter (Megan Burns), and the group forms a substitute family in the plague infested land. When a surviving military installation is discovered, it could be their only hope of escaping England and the plague.
Directed by Danny Boyle and written by his frequent collaborator Alex Garland, 28 Days Later really helped revive the zombie craze and was a big success. Loved by the critics, it help launch the careers of Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris. It was followed by a sequel 28 Weeks Later in 2007 and a comic book spin off called 28 Weeks Later: Aftermath and another 28 Days Later comic in 2009 (both series covered the periods between the original movie and 28 Weeks Later).
The movie has crazy energy. Danny Boyle really electrified the story of the zombies and created a great movie through the simple action of having the zombies run. Zombie had always been slow, lumbering creatures but the zombies in 28 Days Later really could move. This was by having the characters actually being fueled by rage in the blood instead of some slow killing virus. The quick editing and flashy, gritty look of the movie stylized the film and really gave it a feel of its own.
The story of 28 Days Later is pretty typical of zombie films. The opening actually ripped off the beginning of the film (and novel) Day of the Triffids which had a similar set-up of a character waking up in a world full of blind people. Despite being a rip-off, the opening is one of the most stunning images of the film with an empty London, and it was simply done by shooting early in the morning. 28 Days Later was ripped off by the now popular Walking Dead zombie story which virtually had an identical start.
The ending of the movie has a bit of a slow down by falling into the zombie cliche of man (or military) being the greater enemy. The characters are captured by the military and find themselves having to fight humans instead of the zombies. This has been done in every zombie movie since Night of the Living Dead. Fortunately the innovative style of the movie helps get past this generic story element.
28 Days Later is saved by the smart script (and dialogue) and strong acting by the cast. All of the survivors (Murphy, Harris, Gleeson, and Burns) give great performances and really turn somewhat one dimensional characters into real characters with emotions. The actual plot might not be original but the acting within the story really helps make this a solid, and better movie than could be expected.
28 Days Later really sparked something new with zombies and created a new trend. The disappointing sequel just couldn’t recapture the energy and part of that could be contributed to Danny Boyle’s involvement. Boyle usually brings an energy and style to each of his films. 28 Days Later is no exception and more than just fans of the genre can enjoy this film. 28 Days Later was followed by 28 Weeks Later in 2007 with a comic book series bridging the gap between the films.