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Couldn‘t be more topical

Director Danny Boyle‘s film seems to me to be an anachronism: if it was a TV play from the 505 it would be a cult classic now, and if it were a TV programme from the 705 it would be the pilot for an interminable series where the heroes meet the same adversaries in a slightly different arena each week.

However, this is a cinema ‘film’, although it's shot entirely on digital video, which somehow gives it a made-for-television look. Yet, what with the SARS crisis, it couldn’t be more topical.

A viral infection has spread throughout Britain and wiped out most of the population. Jim (Cillian Murphy) has been isolated in hospital after an accident and regains consciousness to find the place deserted. Confused and disorientated by a London completely devoid of people, he eventually meets Selena (Naomie Harris) after encountering what appear to be blood- crazed zombies. They team up with two other survivors, taxi-driver Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter, to escape London. But when Christopher Eccleston appears as the major in charge of a bunch of effin' and blindin‘ squaddies, you may really think you're watching TV.

It seems contrived that the virus, a 100% deadly, is only infectious through blood. Within seconds it turns the victims into the zombie-like ‘infected', coughing out great splatters of contaminated blood. lnevitably. there is the ‘George Romero excuse' for the mass slaughter of (proto)people.

Early scenes introducing the infected provide effective thrills. but the plot could have done with a few twists and turns while the screenplay - by Alex Garland - is competent, but he's no Pinter. (Vince Albert)

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