28 Weeks Later (UK-Spain, 2007)

American occupation

American occupation

This is a genre film teeming with good ideas: it picks up on the theme of a rampaging virus from the original film (now very close to home – er, the whole world – with swine flu) and adds American military and its occupation of a foreign country. Of course, from a UK perspective, that foreign country is home and so throws a light on how Iraq and Afganistan – amongst others – might be feeling. Add to that the brutality of military behaviour, then you have the potential for a subversive narrative.

The film’s effectively directed, if not quite as dynamic as Danny Boyle’s original, with a good use of reflections and some terrifying montages of carnage using the ‘less is more’ formula for representations of violence. However…

Genre films also require narrative cohesiveness and so the ideas can be subordinated to ‘crowd-pleasing’ arcs. For example [spoiler alert], Robert Carlyle’s marvellous vulnerable character, when ‘zombiefied’, continues to seek his children for reasons beyond me. True he seeks them to kill them but how does he track them across London; the Rage virus does turn them into mindless killing machines after all? So the final confrontation is absurd and drains the vitality out of what preceded it.

I had assumed that the film was a UK-US co-production, but the images of American soldiers being ordered to shoot indiscriminately made it obvious that Hollywood would not have touched this script; not only would it seem to be unpatriotic but they never want to upset the military as they won’t get access to their equipment and advice. Hollywood films are often used as recruitement vehicles by the US military.

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