Director: Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent)
Writer: Neil Marshall
Producers: Steven Paul, Benedict Carver
Starring: Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, Malcolm McDowell, Adrian Lester, David O’Hara, MyAnna Buring, Martin Compston
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 105 min
Badass, bloody, brutal, boatloads of fun, big bangs for your buck and oh yeah… Rhona Mitra. Four and a half stars may seem like quite a high score for such an inane concept of a film; and maybe it is but sometimes one has to take into account what a film is trying to accomplish. Doomsday accomplishes what it sets out to do and it does it extremely well.
In the near future a deadly, flesh eating virus has ravaged the UK and Scotland is completely quarantined and sealed off. Almost thirty years later, the virus somehow escapes quarantine and attacks London. The governement learns that there are still survivors within the quarantine area, naturally assuming that there is a cure for the virus, a special task force is sent into the quarantine zone to retrieve the cure; thus saving London.
Rhona Mitra plays Major Eden Sinclair. She’s a highly trained warrior and the leader of the task force. Once inside, the team finds that the survivors are a well organized bunch of savages that will kill and/or torture anything or anyone that invades their turf. The military force finds themselves up against something bigger than they ever thought possible… and maybe more than they can handle.
If you’re looking for an action movie this year, this is it. I can’t remember the last time I saw this much cinematic carnage and mayhem packed into an hour and a half. The movie starts with a bang and goes full throttle to the closing credits. Not feeling the need to bother with too much of a plot, Neil Marshall takes his audience for one helluva ride and never lets up.
Mitra plays the action star surprisingly well, making her the new Sigourney Weaver (Aliens) or Linda Hamilton (Terminator 2). Arguments could be made that she’s more badass than both of those popular heroines combined – and let’s be honest, she’s quite a bit more attractive. From the get-go we know that this girl is not one with whom to mess. And throughout the film she gets in and out of enough scrapes to make even John McClane look on with awe.
What’s most noticeable here is the obvious large number of films used as inspiration for this particular story. While I don’t like comparing movies, the similarities here are unavoidable. Escape from New York would probably be the most obvious. There’s even hints of an 80’s style, electronic score at a couple of points. And I doubt it’s coincidence that one of the main character’s name is “Carpenter.” Just from the trailer, you can see the Mad Max similarities as well: jury-rigged cars with skulls and spikes; and there’s even a gladiator arena at more than one point in the film. There were several other hints and nods towards plenty of other action films of recent decades as well.
Too many villains can sometimes bog down a film. With Doomsday, while there are plenty of bad guys, there are really only two villains and they are so far apart in terms of personality that they work perfectly in tandem at capturing the essence of danger and ruthlessness in this futuristic country. A third villain, who I would’ve liked to see a little bit more of, is just as unique and heartless as the other two… a female with tattoed markings on her face and tongue with no remorse or mercy. She truly is a cold-blooded killer and made for a most enjoyable one you “love to hate.”
Since this is not just set in a city, but an entire country, the places the film makers can use and travel through and the possibilities for settings of an action sequence seem limitless. And director Marshall takes advantage of this like a master. We see cities, suburbs, country sides, long winding highways and even a midievel castle as one locale. The set direction is fantastic and we feel claustrophobic when needed and the exhilarating feeling of the open range at other times. Blood splatters as much inside as it does outside and just as easily – and believe me, there’s a lot of it with this movie.
As with most movies of this ilk, there are some small plot holes, but only one moment I can think of where I had to roll my eyes a bit. But those moments are easily forgotten with the amount of octane running through the film projector. There are also a couple of times when the action is so close or confined that it’s a little difficult to tell what’s happening. Again, easily overlooked as the action is so non-stop that by the time one notices these problems, they’re already left in the dust.
The only other small gripe I have is that one particular plot thread is left unclosed. This could be an opening for a sequel and if the film had done well at the box office I have no doubt that that’s exactly what we’ll get. I’m also fairly certain that this would be a bad idea. The film stands up well on its own and even manages to avoid a cop-out or predictable ending; making it pretty rare among most action flicks.
So obviously not for everyone as this is an extremely violent and bloody picture with not a whole lot to think about and maybe a few plot holes. But again, sometimes a movie is aiming to accomplish just that; and when it succeeds on such a high level and delivers with what it promises to its core demographic, it’s hard to fault the movie. This one delivers in spades… and maces and pick axes and batons and artillery. Just have fun with it. I sure did.