Doomsday (2008)

Neil Marshall

Rhona Mitra - Eden Sinclair
David O'Hara - Michael Canaris
Bob Hoskins - Bill Nelson
Alexander Siddig - John Hatcher
Jon Fallow - Captain Hendrix
Malcolm McDowell - Kane
Sean Pertwee - Dr. Talbot
Craig Conway - Sol
Lee-Anne Liebenberg - Viper

Genre - Action/Sci-Fi/Horror

Running Time - 105 Minutes

Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4

DOOMSDAY takes place in 2035 London, where some virus called Reaper has pretty much spread like wildfire across Scotland years prior. Great Britain decides it's best to quarantine the virus, building a giant wall to keep the virus and those infected with it at bay. Since the citizens destroy themselves, the outbreak starts to diminish. However, this turn of events has made London subject to overcrowding, mass amounts of violence, and another outbreak of the Reaper virus.

Prime Minister John Hatcher (Alexander Siddig) is at a loss at to what to do with this new outbreak. Some influencial dude named Michael Canaris (David O'Hara) suggests building another wall as quarantine. Yeah, since that worked so well before - dumbass. Another influencial dude named Bill Nelson (Bob Hoskins, thankfully not wearing a plumber's suit) has another idea: send someone into Scotland to find a survivor of the previous virus. If this person survived the outbreak after all these years, it must mean that their blood holds an antibody for the disease.

While debating who should conduct such a mission, in walks bionic eyed ass kicking machine Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra). Apparently, she was the last person flown out of Scotland during the outbreak and happens to be Nelson's number one lady. She's given the job to seek the cure, but is told she has less than two days to go in discreetly (because this government is composed of a bunch of pussies who don't like taking responsibility for their own mess) into Scotland, find the survivor, and bring him or her back to London. If Eden, and her team, are unable to do this in time, they will be left in Scotland for good as London goes into a lockdown.

Directed and written by DOG SOLDIERS and THE DESCENT director, Neil Marshall, DOOMSDAY is a modern day B-movie that pays tribute to other action/sci-fi hybrids - especially ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (and ESCAPE FROM L.A.) and the MAD MAX trilogy (MAD MAX, THE ROAD WARRIOR, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME). Marshall never attempts to hide the homage, as probably 75 percent of the film plays like ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK while the end chase scene is definitely taken from THE ROAD WARRIOR. Also, the virus scenes are similar to the original DAWN OF THE DEAD. Nice to know these people don't turn into zombies. They just become infected. That whole thing is getting pretty old at this point. Nothing here is original at all. And really, that isn't an issue because it is what it is and it's proud of what it is. It's fun to watch. The action and the violence play out wonderfully. And the score sounds like something John Carpenter would have composed for a flick like this. It's an entertaining film from beginning to end.

Even with all that, I couldn't help feel disappointed with DOOMSDAY. While the film is fun, I didn't connect with it as much as I had wanted to. Maybe it's because I've seen the films DOOMSDAY is based on and kind of wished that I was watching those movies rather than this one because they were done better. I didn't feel anything for the characters at all, which sucks because there were a lot of interesting ones to choose from. I honestly believe Marshall crammed too much of a homage within a short span, sacrificing character development and decent pacing. I thought the whole middle section with the gladiator fight and Malcolm McDowell's presence was kind of lacking. I didn't really dig that scene in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK either, so that whole segment did nothing for me. It kind of loses momentum that the beginning created and the ending tries to pick back up. It was kind of jarring.

I also didn't like the ending either. It was very anti-climatic and waaaaay too short. It could have been expanded more. Especially the revelation about the corrupt government. It was like "whatever" and it moved on to something else. I actually rewound the film to make sure I didn't miss something because I couldn't believe the entire film led to that! It's one of those "That's it!?" endings that I'm not a fan of. Pretty lazy, I thought.

Also, what was the point of having the mission be 2 days and not have Eden check her watch to see how long she has left? ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK countlessly did that so the film could build tension and hope Snake Plissken saves the President in time. You don't get that here at all. It was an after-thought. It would have benefited the film greatly if Marshall had given us a timeline so we can feel as much apprehension as Eden did during her mission.

And like I mentioned before, no character development in the film. I had no idea who most of these people were. Yeah, Eden was the last girl out of Scotland and the female Snake Plissken. Okay...and I should care about her because...? I liked her being a bad ass and not giving a fuck most of the time, but why bring up the whole background subplot if not much is done with it? And we barely know anything about the British government except that they're coldhearted assholes. And then other characters would pop in and out, only confusing me more because I had no idea why they were there and why I should give a fuck. I understand this film shouldn't be watched for a story or character development, but you gotta make the viewer care about who he or she is watching. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK managed to do it well. MAD MAX did it well. DOOMSDAY tries but doesn't really succeed on that front.

I will say that I enjoyed the gore in the film. This is one bloody and splatteringly good time movie. This film is very violent and I appreciated it. Seeing guys get splattered by vehicles and gunfire always puts a smile on my face. And it was used when it needed to be used, which I also appreciated. Marshall knows how to pace his gory scenes in his films and he did it perfectly here.

Marshall also directed a hell of a film, even with its pacing issues. Still, it had a lot of style, charm, and energy - which are needed for a film like this. I loved the dark and chaotic atmosphere and the decent amount of suspense during the many action sequences. It's a finely directed film, although I don't think it's his best work. But I still enjoyed the visuals alot.

The acting was fine for the film. Rhona Mitra isn't the best actress in the world but she's more than capable of handling action and delivering lines. She's also extremely hot, which makes her very watchable on film as far as I'm concerned. Love the accent too. Sexy! David O'Hara was a great villainous presence as Canaris. Bob Hoskins was cool as Nelson, although he didn't really do all that much. I liked Craig Conway as the punkish leader of the tribe, Sol. He's a good screamer. Lee-Anne Liebenbergis was hot as the tattooed Viper. Gotta love a girl who knows how to use her tongue and play with swords. And Malcolm McDowell was good as Kane, although the character could have been better. But the actors tried to make the most with what they were given, so kudos to them.

And did I hear "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and "Spellbound" by Siouxsie and the Banshees? Someone has great taste in music. I was totally digging the soundtrack here.

While disappointing, DOOMSDAY is still a pretty fun flick that'll be a cult favorite in years to come. The homages were great and the action and gore were spectacular, but there was something lacking here and it hurt the film for me. Still, if you want to check out an entertaining flick where you can leave the brain at the door, DOOMSDAY may be for you. Could have been better but I still dug it for the most part.

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