A good but flawed film telling an all too familiar story. A killer virus is unleashed killing everyone but a handful of people.
The first half of the film is full of promise, suspenseful, shocking and bleak. It shows our characters having to survive by making some very difficult and horrific decisions. They are, however, doing what they must in order to survive. They soon realise that they need to do more than just survive, that their existence needs to have some higher purpose. And so progresses their story of seeking some escape from this life.
Unfortunately, it is all downhill after that. The second half of the film descends into an 'Arnie'style, shoot-em-up movie. All logic and creativity are lost to the god of explosions, guns and overblown, cartoon heroics. It goes from being an interesting post-apocalyptic film, ala 'Mad Max', to a run around and kill the bad guys film, ala 'Die Hard'.
I have never thought much of the work of the director Danny Boyle. His most famous work, 'Trainspotting' was another good but flawed film in my opinion. Cited as being the closest you will get to drugs culture without actually taking part yourself, the main success of the film lay in the source material he used. The film did not paint the same grim reality that the book did. Characters seemed fabricated and the storyline trite in comparison to the subtext of drug culture the film was supposed to explore. Although some things work on the printed page, they will not work verbatim on screen.
Boyle's other works include 'Shallow Grave', his much lauded debut that was an over-hyped, uninspiring, painted by numbers film. 'A Life Less Ordinary' and 'The Beach' round off Boyle's filmography, both of which even the director would admit are millstones around his neck (although I am sure he blames studio meddling to be the cause of their failures).
Touted as a true British auteur, I had hoped '28 Days Later...' would prove this statement to be true. The trailers had led me to believe that this was something special, but alas to no avail. The look of this film is in places truly magnificent. Sometimes feeling like a low budget movie, sometimes Hollywood extravaganza and sometimes like a home movie. The textures of the images on screen are a delight to watch, but more is needed if you are a true auteur . An auteur is a director who is completely and truly in charge of the material set out in front of them. Tarantino is an auteur, Kubrick was an auteur, Boyle still has much to learn.
A great first half descends into Hollywood cornball stuff, but the setting and premise for the film are great and for that alone, along with the great scenes of London completely devoid of crowds, (many people's wet dream, I'm sure) it is worth seeing.