So I recently watched “28 Weeks Later“, the sequel to Danny Boyle’s classic “28 Days Later“, the film that helped to usher in the “fast zombie”* boomlet of the early 2000s. Like its predecessor, “28 Weeks Later” boasts a very strong cast (including Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle, Harold Perrineau, and Jeremy Renner) and it delivers the apocalyptic mayhem, but unfortunately it suffers from the fact that the characters behave in incredibly stupid ways. If you imagine that they took Season 3 Andrea from “The Walking Dead” and put her in charge of a military operation to repopulate Britain after it was devastated by the rage virus from the first film, you’re not far off.
Because my wife studiously ignored the presence of this movie in the house, I can’t use the usual rating system of how long it took her to fall asleep. Therefore, I’m going to dust off the “badmovies.org” style of bullet-pointed summary, which I think was last used in my infamous pan of “August Rush“, to illustrate some of the important things “28 Weeks Later” taught us. Needless to say, there will be …
- If you are the American military and you have secured a base on an island in the middle of a depopulated and still-dangerous London, and you are filling said island up with civilians, and you tell them they MUST NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES leave said island to go exploring, you’ll sort of just assume that they’ll listen. You won’t, you know, post any guards at the ends of the bridges that lead to London, you’ll just put them in the middle of the bridge, where they’ll chitchat with each other instead of keeping an eye out to make sure a couple of kids aren’t sneaking away.
- After a sniper on top of a nearby building finally does spot the kids exiting the bridge, it will take you so long to formulate a response that said kids will have time to wander around London, find an abandoned moped, find the keys, and drive all the way to their old house before you can manage to get a helicopter to their location.
- You won’t bother to post a guard on the isolation room in the heart of the military medical center where an uncommunicative survivor brought in from outside the “safe zone” with a huge, albeit healed, bite wound on her arm is being kept for observation. Maybe this is because you finally posted guards on all the bridge entrances and exits so you can’t spare any for the quarantine room, but I doubt it …
- You will tell this survivor’s husband that you found his wife, but it evidently won’t occur to you that he might try to sneak in and see her. Which he can do, on account of he’s the civilian facilities manager and so of course you gave him a key card that opens ALL THE DOORS in the military medical facility, including in the quarantine area. Because, you know, he might need to change a light bulb in there or something.
- When a fresh rage virus outbreak occurs, rather than sending all the civilians to their quarters where they can shelter in place, you will herd them all into what looks like an underground parking garage. Then you’ll chain one door shut, but you’ll evidently forget that there’s another door around back. Then you’ll turn off all the lights. (Seriously, you might as well hang a “Zombie Chow” sign out front.)
- If you’re on the run with a kid who may have a genetic abnormality that enables him to carry the rage virus asymptomatically, thereby making him (1) a potential source for a treatment or a vaccine but also (2) a potential Typhoid Mary, you won’t tell anyone except for the military sniper who’s protecting you. Telling this guy is actually not a bad idea, because he has a radio. However, he won’t use said radio to pass the information along to anyone else, for instance, the helicopter pilot who is planning to airlift you all to safety. You also won’t tell the kid, because why worry him?
I could go on and on, but let’s just say there’s a reason the “Idiot Ball” entry for “28 Weeks Later over at the much-loved tvtropes.org site is the largest section of the film’s writeup, closely followed by “Too Dumb To Live“. With that, I think I will give the last word to someone who knows a thing or two about how to deal with zombies.
*I realize the infected in “28 Days Later” are not technically zombies on account of they’re not actually dead. But they still brought on the fast zombie apocalypse.