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28 Days Later

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: 28 Days Later

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris
Director: Danny Boyle
Rated: R
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: June 2003
Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Megan Burns, Brendan Gleeson, Christopher Eccleston, Alex Palmer, Christopher Dunne, Toby Sedgwick, Emma Hitching, Jukka Hiltunen

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1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
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4.  Susan Granger read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

If you, like me, are a big fan of end-of-the-world science fiction stories -- and I'm not talking about something sleazy with Bruce Willis going mano a mano with an asteroid -- you'll be just as engrossed as I was in 28 DAYS LATER. (No, it's not a sequel to 28 DAYS, starring Sandra Bullock.) At once fascinating and frightening, the film is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that has as much to offer to your mind as it does your adrenaline glands.

It all starts when some eco-terrorists set a group of infected chimps free. Once loose, the chimps start infecting the humans with their super virus. Very soon after being bitten, the humans inherit the same aggressive behavior that the chimps had, causing them to attack others and die a few days later. Whenever the infected people charge, the movie switches to jump cuts and fast editing to add to the fear factor. The movie, however, no more belongs in the horror genre than does ALIENS. Both are highly intelligent science fiction films, not slasher flicks.

Almost the entire movie happens after Jim (Cillian Murphy), a bicycle courier, awakes from a coma in a London hospital. Having been 28 days since the original infection, London now appears completely deserted. Shocked, Jim stumbles around dazed, having no clue as to what happened. Turning out to be not quite free of people, London still has some large packs of "infecteds" ready to attack anyone not yet infected. Jim finally meets up with Selena (Naomie Harris), Mark (Noah Huntley), Frank (Brendan Gleeson), and Frank's daughter Hannah (Megan Burns). Together they battle the infecteds with whatever weapon is handy.

Most of the middle section of the story is a road movie, set in Frank's taxi, as the group attempts to find "the cure" and hook up with other survivors. Jim is told that in the last television broadcast, before everything went off the air, the virus was reported to have spread to Paris and New York. (The movie was made well before SARS was discovered, but the existence of SARS certainly makes the film feel creepier and timelier.)

Salena's philosophy is simple. She tells Jim to forget finding a cure, since "Staying alive is as good as it gets." As the heavenly choirs sing on the sound track, you'll be right there with this rag-tag band of humans vicariously trying to stay alive with them.

As we approach the last act, key questions remain. How many other groups, if any, are out there? Is there a cure, and, if so, what could it be? And finally, could the cure be worse than the disease?

My only complaint is that the story is so wonderfully intricate that a better medium for it would have been an eight-hour miniseries. But, unless there is someday a longer director's cut, this mesmerizing 112 minute version will do nicely.

28 DAYS LATER runs 1:52. It is rated R for "strong violence and gore, language and nudity" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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