General Release 2008
105 minutes approx
Eden Sinclair -
Bill Nelson -
John Hatcher -
Directed by -
Written by -
In the near future an outbreak of a terrible virus in Glasgow leads to panic. It has a near perfect mortality rate and it is spreading. Not knowing what to do, the authorities construct a thirty foot wall across the border, sealing Scotland away from the rest of the country. The waters are mined so no ships can get out and aircraft over the area are instantly shot down. The people left on the other side of the wall are left to die.
Years later and there is another outbreak, in London this time. As the city of London is sealed off, a team of hotshot military types are sent into the hot zone that used to be Scotland to find the survivors that were seen by satellite three years before. where there are survivors, there must be a cure. The locals, however, are not too keen on seeing those who left them to resort to savagery and cannibalism and die. It may be all that the team can do to survive.
The pitch for DOOMSDAY must have been easy. Take the basic set up of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK using the virus from 28 DAYS LATER as the excuse and then throw in MAD MAX 2:THE ROAD WARRIOR. After all what genre nut wouldn't want to see that? And make no mistake, director Neil Marshall is a genre director. His first outing was the silly, but entertaining werewolves vs mercenaries movie DOG SOLDIERS and his second the something scary in the dark threatens female potholers horror THE DESCENT. Not one for costume dramas or quirky romantic comedies our Mr Marshall.
There is not one minute of originality in the whole running time of DOOMSDAY, but then that was never the intent. The aim here is to create a full on, balls to the wall, in your face, flat out action exploitation movie. This is popcorn movie making and it works. The set up, derivative as it may be, is compelling and brilliantly set up by an opening sequence as the last panels in the wall are sealed. The main character, Rhona Mitra's kick-ass heroine (no Snake Plissken perhaps, but up there with the best of the action girls), is then introduced in a sharply put together assault on a freighter sequence and then it's into Scotland for some major running, shooting and killing.
None of this is remotely believable, of course, but again that isn't the point. The plague survivors use a tunnel as a short cut for years but never think to look through the piles of crates for anything useful like food? None of the characters, apart from Mitra's heroine, is even slightly more than a sketch with support from Bob Hoskins and Malcolm MacDowell only making an impact because we already know who they are and have seen these particular performances before.
DOOMSDAY is about the action and the style and there is plenty of both to be getting on with. The action sequences aren't quite as polished as some coming out of the US and perhaps overedited, but the gritty, rough feel of them makes them more immediate and visceral early on. When we get to the final car chase, it's too close to MAD MAX 2:THE ROAD WARRIOR to qualify as homage and is just never going to compare for scale and quality. That said, the first attack of the survivors on the military squad is really well done and there are many other moments to enjoy and savour.
There are also flashes of humour, usually of the gallows variety. Fluffy bunny rabbits explode, friends are served up medium rare and severed heads topple off when someone brakes too hard. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it works.
DOOMSDAY isn't great art, but if you want action and violent death then it sure beats the hell out of stuff like RESIDENT EVIL:EXTINCTION.Top
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