Doomsday (2008)


After delivering a pair of unexpectedly excellent horror movies (namely, Dog Soldiers and The Descent), writer/director Neil Marshall is branching out just a bit. Sort of like John Carpenter followed Halloween and The Fog with the cult classic Escape from New York, Mr. Marshall follows his fine first flicks with a high-octane, high-energy, and undeniably entertaining sci-fi action thriller called, simply enough, Doomsday.

It'd be enough to call Doomsday a loving homage to films like Escape from New York, The Road Warrior, and 28 Days Later, but here's a plot synopsis that's just a bit more illuminating: It's the not-too-distant future, and the whole of Glasgow has fallen to a horrific virus. Unlike the maladies found in 28 Weeks (or a similar zombie-style tale), this virus simply kills you. Real fast. But only after you go a little nuts from all the horrific boils and bloody eye sockets. Suffice to say it's a pretty damn nasty virus, but as far as we know (as the movie starts) the virus HAS been contained. Until an epidemic breaks out in the UK, that is.

That's when a bunch of conniving politicians and clever scientists hatch a plan: Send a few soldiers "behind the wall" so they can discover how a few residents have managed to avoid infection for three decades -- and then return to the "free world" with a cure. To this end, the authorities enlist the assistance kick-ass mercenary lady cop called Eden Sinclair. Along with a semi-colorful group of soldiers, Sinclair is sent into no man's land to ... well, to save the world, basically.

Rhona Mitra's Eden Sinclair is half Snake Plissken and half Lara Croft. She's a tough gal with an eye patch, but she's also heroic and amusing enough to anchor the mayhem without much trouble. And once Marshall has laid down the ground rules, and we're finally plunked into the infected streets of Glasgow, Doomsday assumes a mega-kinetic pace that nearly never lets up. As a writer, Marshall is clever enough to punctuate all the macho insanity with liberal doses of sly humor, which certainly helps to make a semi-ridiclous premise like this go down a lot more smoothly. Doomsday was made to be a matinee-style diversion for grown-up children, and if you judge the flick by those standards, it's a surprisingly fun way to spend 91 minutes.

Bolstered by broad but effective performances from Malcolm McDowell, Bob Hoskins, and Adrian Lester (and powered by a fantastic Tyler Bates score), Doomsday is one helluva good time, provided you have a taste for old-school action mayhem and you enjoy pulpy sci-fi stories that deal with the end of the world -- but still don't take the idea all that seriously. The action bits may be a bit "over-edited" for some tastes (even I would have enjoyed a few more "master" shots), but if Marshall's goal was to deliver a no-nonsense, tongue-in-cheek, mega-violent "throwback" action flick, I'd say he's done a damn fine job of it.

Plus the flick is all but peppered with cute little "in-jokes" for the movie nerds, and that's something I always appreciate.