starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker
screenplay by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright
directed by Breck Eisner
by Walter Chaw A military plane transporting a biological agent designed to destabilize civilian populations is headed for incineration when it crash-lands in tiny Ogden Marsh, IA, causing a few of the local yokels to start acting on all the urges that the veneer of civilization holds in check. A father kills his wife and son, a school principal dispatches a few of his students, a coroner begins stitching up the living, and Sheriff Dutton (Timothy Olyphant, good as sheriffs) is left to consider that for as naughty as these actions are, they're not so out of character for the people he protects. (It takes a while for him to deadpan that they might be in a little bit of trouble.) The Crazies plays with the thought that there's not only not much of a line separating acceptable behaviour from homicidal, there's also not much of a line between the infected townspeople and the military choppered in to contain them. In a good film's best moment, Dutton and his deputy capture a young soldier (Joe Reegan) and allow him a few minutes to be afraid and to enact a moment of grace that, if you think about it later, facilitates the complete destruction of another, larger urban population. A lot like the mordant epilogue of the also-fantastic 28 Weeks Later (another film that deals with the problem of occupation armies and the suppression of insurgencies), the ultimate source of trouble here is the heroic, quintessentially American desire to survive no matter the cost to the greater good.