After a short boat-set prologue reintroducing us to the apocalyptic nightmare of Train to Busan, the plot flashes forward four years. With the virus that struck in the original contained in a closed-off Korea, survivors find themselves barely existing in an uncaring world. A pair who lose so much at the start of the film are offered an out: return to their homeland to find a truck loaded with cash and they can live happily ever after. Of course, when they get there things do not go according to plan.
It is refreshing that Sang-ho has avoided a repeat of what has come before to instead explore what happens when society leaves a place of devastation and anarchy is allowed to take hold. What the film lacks in any kind-of efficient set-up (as the plot synopsis shows there’s nothing as simple as zombies-on-a-locomotive that made the original so thrillingly effective) it makes up for with an enticing bravado. The action beats are enjoyably bold, with several set pieces transitioning between settings and scope. While nothing quite reaches the emotional impactful of the last act of Train to Busan here this doesn’t prevent a fun roster of characters emerging in the film, who the audience can just about invest in before the chaos comes to the fore. Peninsula flows with ideas with some working better than others but it is a film that, for the right audience, will be a thrilling ride.
This is a preferable sequel to Train to Busan then something like Bus to Stockholm or Boat to New York. The creatives behind the original make fascinating choices and take the franchise in a unique direction. If it works better as an action film then a horror that’s ok as the action beats make Peninsula a particularly enjoyable work. Some quirky supporting character make up for a rather lacklustre lead (whose battles feel too internal for the heightened world he inhabits). I’m not sure I needed a sequel to one of the greatest zombie movies ever made but I’ll take this enjoyable genre piece anyway.