As you're coming out of the movie 28 Weeks Later, you might be tempted to discuss the horrors of the events in the movie, the acting, the overwhelmingly and unnecessarily bloody gore, or the architecture in the London skyline. But I think we can all agree that the movie was, above all, a lesson in military and security strategy and a warning to future operations planners (especially those dealing with infectious viral outbreaks that turn people into flesh-eating zombies).
I know it will seem pretty far fetched and hard to picture in real life, but here are some of the salient events in the plot (spoiler alert!):
The U.S. military goes into a foreign country because we think it needs our help. They set up a "Green Zone" and establish patrols throughout the streets to deal with any threats. They assure the people watching from the outside that the secured country is safe and that reconstruction is making progress, when really it is just a facade of safety and progress. When we lose control of the situation, the backup plan involves mass violence and extermination of pretty much anything moving. Lots of people die, and there is no reasonable exit strategy or resolution to speak of.
Thank goodness this was a work of fiction and nothing like that is going on today. But still, in the name of improving the quality of our police state, let's break down some of what we can learn from it:
- You can't set up a perimeter that is only secure in one direction of egress or ingress, especially when you're dealing with infectious diseases. It should be as hard to get out of the secured area as it is to get in. Have we learned NOTHING from Resident Evil?
- You always need multiple perimeters, again, especially when dealing with infectious diseases. A single set of doors, a single bridge, a single point of access is just not acceptable when you're up against today's zombie-making viruses. Did we learn NOTHING from The Andromeda Strain?
- No one should ever have full access to everything, even really important people. If you have the privilege to make use of a computerized keycard access system, take advantage of the configuration options in the software that powers it to grant individuals access only to where they are supposed to be. For example, someone in charge of maintenance operations at a residential facility should not also have access to the inner holding rooms of a highly critical medical facility. Have we learned NOTHING from every action movie ever made?
- If you take someone into custody who is acting strangely, has a mysterious or questionable origin, has been exposed extensively to flesh-eating zombies or who may be critical to some aspect of your operations, consider not leaving him or her completely unguarded and unmonitored in a trailer in some parking lot. Have we learned NOTHING from The Usual Suspects?
- Firebombing an entire city is not a sufficient way to insure total annihilation of all life-forms. Now, when you add in a city-wide release of fatal nerve gas, you're starting to think in the right direction, but you can't just assume that every space has been accounted for. Total destruction is the only option. Have we learned NOTHING from The Terminator, Terminator 2 or Terminator 3?
- You can't necessarily depend on human beings to harm or kill each other in the name of following orders, even when they're trained to do so. At least for now, the base human instinct is to create and celebrate life at all costs. Have we learned NOTHING from Cocoon?
Let this be a lesson to you, military strategy planners of the future!
Another relevant lesson is not to trust the movie showtimes you get from text messaging with Google, as dependence on them may result in the viewing of a movie that was not your intended showing. Feh.