Doomsday is a cannibalistic film, which feeds on classic action/sci-fi/thrillers from the ’80s and ’90s. Neil Marshall must’ve been inspired by Escape from New York, Mad Max, Highlander, Aliens and 28 Days Later… when he wrote the script for Doomsday. It’s one of those movies that keeps reinventing itself, and the mish-mash of genre in Doomsday is stylish and trashy. Rhona Mitra leads the tirade as Major Eden Sinclair, who’s like Milla Jovovich’s Alice meets Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider. She’s the sultry vixen from Boston Legal, and her lead role in Doomsday shows promise. This British production is refreshingly different from the usual humdrum, bar Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Severance and several other benders. Blood, cannibalism, flesh-eating disease, quarantine and plenty of severed heads are the currency. However, this isn’t what you’d expect. If you’re thinking zombie movie, you’re wrong… Doomsday does set the audience up for something like 28 Days Later… but kicks the audience in the teeth with its gothic Mad Max turn Highlander fiasco.
The production has flair, but its all been done before. There’s very little originality to speak of, besides some clever tweaks and quirks that could’ve been an afterthought. The film’s magpie approach keeps it churning genre after genre and this keeps the violent blend of action trash entertaining. The script isn’t all that sharp, but Marshall is more about action, brutality and visuals than being a wordsmith. Doomsday is set in Great Britain, with Scotland quarantined by a 30ft wall with surveillance. The Reaper virus has infected the nation and they have been left to rot as a measure to keep the virus from spreading. When top intelligence agents receive satellite reports of human life within the perimeter, a rescue team is dispatched to find a cure. However, their mission never anticipated so much hostility and resilience.
Mitra’s performance is adequate as a heroine torn between duty and personal agenda. An Angelina Jolie would’ve drawn more attention, but she stands up to the task. Her support comes in the form of Bob Hoskins, Adrian Lester and Malcolm MacDowell. Hoskins adds points to the dramatic credibility, Lester (Hustle) doubles for Mitra and MacDowell gives Doomsday cult/B-movie status. The film was predominantly shot in South Africa, and as a result the movie features several recognisable faces in Cokey Falkow as Captain Hendrix and Lee-Anne Liebenberg as Viper, with a host of South African extras. Doomsday has the same trashy entertainment feel as Death Race (2008), which unashamedly “borrows” styles and themes from better films. The plot may not make too much sense, the performances may not be in contention of any awards, but the stylised rush of blood, bullets and genres is pure popcorn entertaining. One could ever say that Neil Marshall is the British equivalent of Paul W.S. Anderson with Dog Soldiers and The Descent to his name.
The bottom line: Trashy.