28 DAYS LATER **
CAST: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Christopher
Eccleston, Megan Burns, Noah Huntley, Luke Mably, Stuart McQuarrie,
Ricci Harnett, Leo Bill, Junior Laniyan, Ray Panthaki, Sanjay Rambaruth,
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle
in, wired up, strapped down, and injected with God only knows what
kind of new-age serum, a batch of chimps whine and scream as they
are forced to watch endless electronic images of humans maiming
and killing one another. Happily, the torture of these guinea chimps
in a dark lab somewhere in London is soon to come to an end, thanks
to a rescue mission performed by a band of animal-rights activists.
Unhappily, the enraged apes are short on gratitude and quickly shred
their liberators into bloody slivers.
As this horrifying opening scene fades out, a title appears on screen.
It says "28 Days Later" and is followed by the image of
a young, naked man awaking in a hospital. There is an IV in his
thin, white arm, the intensive care unit is a wreck, and there is
nobody else present in what remains of the unit. Indeed, as the
bewildered patient soon discovers, there is nobody else present
in the entire hospital or, for that matter, in all of London, from
Piccadilly Circus to Buckingham Palace.
Well, thats not quite true. From time to time, the by-now-clothed
wanderer, whose name is Jim and whose occupation before the accident
that landed him in the hospital was that of a bicycle courier, encounters
rabid aggressorsmost notably in a stately church gone cuckoowho
keep him on the run. As he soon learns from Selena, a shapely, non-rabid
woman and Mark, her hunky traveling companion, these predators have
been transformed into weapons of rage by the spread of a chimp-blood
virus and must be terminated before they have a chance to terminate
you. One drop of their blood on your bod turns you into a maniacal
member of the "infected" in less than a minutewhich
is why, after a sneak attack by the varmints, sweet Selena efficiently
hacks her musclebound, bloodsoaked Mark to death in a matter of
So far, in its hysterical, intensely manipulative way, "28
Days Later" is so good. Weve been stunned by the bold
imagery and the razor-sharp pacing with which director Danny Boyle,
the man who made us holler choo-choo with his "Trainspotting,"
has set Alex Garlands story in motion, and our nerves have
been rattled to the breaking point as weve fretted not only
for Jim and his newfound friends, but for the whole of humanity
(the plague is rumored to have plunged its way through New York
But about a third of the way through this neo-noir
nightmare, we realize that there is no philosophical point being
made, no meaningful message to be drawn from all the morbid razzmatazz.
The promising beginning has trickled into a deep, silly well of
special effects and plot-holes involving military loonies whose
battle plan includes raping frisky Selena and an adolescent orphan
Jim has picked up along the way. Saving what he probably considers
his biggest shock for the very end, Danny Boyle merely succeeds
in making us laugh and say "Is that all there is?"
Could any actor survive this ferocious misfire with his reputation
intact? Brendan Gleeson, playing a fruitcake taxi driver who takes
Jim for a ride hell never forget, does. But acclaimed Irish
actor Cillian Murphy, frontal nudity notwithstanding, is a dull
disappointment as the reawakened Jim. He should have stood in bed.