28 DAYS LATER takes a nosedive off the pier when one character picks a fight with a bird and loses. The character of Hannah takes the loss of the last person in her previous life well; in fact she seems to mature in minutes after her father moves on. Later, hopped up on Valium, her characterization changes again, first telling people they’re going to die like a horror movie gypsy, yet having the presence of mind to hide from an infected soldier who proceeds to kill most of his pals, all of whom are well-armed. Hannah tops this later, when the big baddie is in a car she’s driving; she backs up the car just as an infected person runs out of the house. I have no idea what she was planning before the infected dude showed up. Maybe the drugs DID give her gypsy skills.
It doesn’t surprise me that the DVD reveals that there was consideration given to tossing out the entire Army Villains subplot, which is half the movie and probably cost half the budget. Aside from the other things I’ve bitched about, our hero vanishes and is replaced with a psychotic spree killer who manages to wipe out an entire group of trained soldiers using only his wits. He kills one soldier and then drags his body into a car without the other bad guy seeing this, even though he’s in the immediate area. Why did Jim move the body? Why didn’t he kill the villain? He has a gun, which he then uses to free a chained-up infected, letting him loose in the building where Jim’s friends are.
And surprise! The only survivors are the three unarmed and untrained civilians! Jim gets shot from a foot away, and then the car he and the others are in smashes through an iron fence with such force that the two in the back seat are thrown forward, though our teen driver doesn’t get more than a scratch, if that. We see the car later, and there’s not a scratch. The complete change in the main character’s behavior is startling. A pacifist until now, he turns into a man so bloodthirsty he pushes someone’s eyes in with his thumbs, and immediately makes out with our heroine.
Naomie Harris’ character is an ass-kicker but she uses her anger to cover her fears and cares. Unlike Jim’s, Selena’s personality doesn’t suddenly switch, it believably evolves. She has two people she cares about and that blunts some of her edge, but that just makes sense. If she lost Jim and Hannah, she’d be messed up for awhile, but then she’d come back, maybe tougher than before. With Jim’s character all over the place and Hannah being a liability more than a help, Selena becomes the movie’s central character. It’s either that or we are as phony as anyone who tosses their morality once it is challenged by reality.