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28 Days Later
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28 Days Later

Starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns, Noah Huntley and Brendan Gleeson
Screenplay by Alex Garland
Directed by Danny Boyle

IN SHORT: Exceptional SF with just enough blood and suspense to make it a must see. [Rated R for strong violence and gore, language and nudity. 108 minutes]

We're many years beyond our SF fanboy days hanging out with Isaac Asimov (true) but there will always be a switch somewhere in the gray matter that will flip when tales of science fiction or fantasy or horror roll in front of the ol' optic nerves. We're used to big budget, high tech and CGI fantasy fests like Hulk or any of the Terminator sequels. The harder work is to thrill an audience without multi-million dollar effects. Director Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later does that with both barrels blazing. All cylinders firing and fantasy hellzapoppin to boot.

The best laid plans of mice and men do oft go astray. It's a famous saying. It's also a great jumping off point for 28 Days Later, in which animal rights activists break the Cambridge (UK) Primate Research Centre to free the monkeys caged within. They think the primates are being tortured. They're not. They've been infected with a virulent "rage" (as in murderous anger) -- we're guessing that the object was to come up with some new kind of tranquilizing happy pill -- and the second the cages are popped open, the animals rip their liberators to shreds. The few that don't die, within twenty seconds or so, transform into murderous beasts themselves. And so on and so forth and pretty soon it is 28 Days Later and our story begins with the awakening of a comatose cycle courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy). The hospital is deserted and in shambles. The streets are empty. The question for our newly awakened hero is "what happened and why?"

28 Days Later is great example of how a good story and script can overcome any budgetary restrictions. The monkey attack at the beginning of the flick is shot in a style whose existence is mandated by the lack of a huge blood 'n' guts effects budget. Its fast cut style is one we've never liked but Boyle gets it out of the way quickly. Any complaints we had were quickly forgotten as monkey "effects" are surpassed by stunning visuals of an empty and abandoned London. Abandoned except for a quartet of other survivors that Jim stumbles across -- Selina (Naomie Harris), Mark (Noah Huntley), and Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns) -- and the murderous, zombie-ish infected humans with murder on their minds.

While the city is empty, the radio airwaves are busy with a repeating broadcast announcing survivors and a cure up in Manchester. The London Five climb in Frank's cab and search out the source of the radio broadcasts, which turn out to be survivor soldiers led by a guy named Henry (Christopher Eccleston). What they want of their newfound survivor friends reveals some brilliant mis-direction in the story written by Alex Garland. Magicians everywhere would be proud, if they were to write film scripts.

We're not going to say anymore other than this: Danny Boyle did trainspotting. If you're interests never swayed to SF but you planted and liked that other film, run to the cineplex now.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to 28 Days Later, he would have paid . . .


Highly recommended.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Danny Boyle
Click to buy films starring Brendan Gleeson
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