The Crazies

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Posted February 25, 2010 in Film

Breck Eisner’s paranoiac thriller is a decent way to get juiced. Like the 1973 George A. Romero original, it’s set in a small town where local cops David (Timothy Olyphant) and Russell (Joe Anderson) realize that their friends and neighbors are infected with a contagious crazy-making disease that turns them into slack-jawed, dead-eyed psychopaths. Romero loved a good political jab and split his Vietnam Era tale into two stories: the good guys’ fight to survive and the government’s bumbling (and fatal) attempts to quarantine the infection. Eisner’s update, written by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright, doesn’t need to show us that the Feds are morons; instead, he sticks solely to David and Russell’s struggle to get out of town with David’s pregnant wife (Radha Mitchell) in tow. Through their panic, we get a tingler that’s cynical and cruel—it takes it for a given that our government would conspire to kill its citizens, even using Holocaust imagery to sharpen its point. The pacing is merciless, the body count high, but though no one in the cast has the punch to pop off the screen—save Anderson, a Brit actor whose loyal, temperamental, twangy deputy steals every scene—this is a taut meat-grinder and great guilty pleasure.

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