This post-apocalyptic action blowout, courtesy of writer/director Neil Marshall, lives fast and dies hard--but it delivers the goods.
Nearly 30 years after an infectious plague ravaged Scotland and forced the closing of the nation's borders, the plague recurs in London--prompting the government to send a crack team of commandos into Scotland to locate and retrieve the cure, if indeed there is one. Of course, it's not as simple as all that. The hordes of crazed, and in some cases cannibalistic, survivors of the plague are more than willing to give a (very) warm welcome to these interlopers, led by the foxy and fierce Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra). Meanwhile, back in Merrye Olde England, the virus is continuing to spread, but some of the powers-that-be don't seem altogether concerned about that, being more preoccupied with protecting their image, sullied as it already is. In short, it's every man and woman for himself and herself--survival of the fittest, 21st-century style. It's also derivative, and not necessarily in a negative way, of such sci-fi classics as John Carpenter's Escape from New York and George Miller's Mad Max trilogy--replete with appropriate nods and in-jokes from Marshall, who clearly has a great respect and affection for those who came before.
Sigourney Weaver may not lose any sleep, but Milla Jovovich might. As the one-eyed, two-fisted, ferociously fit action heroine Eden Sinclair, Mitra stakes her claim to become the next cult heroine, and there's plenty of room left here to accommodate Eden's potential future adventures. It's always nice having Bob Hoskins around, even if only for an extended cameo appearance as Eden's down-to-earth boss, Bill Nelson. Hoskins has played some heavies in his time, but here he's one of the good guys. Alexander Siddig, no stranger to science-fiction given his Star Trek: Deep Space Nine stint, plays the (rightly) worried Prime Minister, and the ever-scowling David O'Hara plays his ruthless aide-de-camp, amusingly and ironically named Canaris (World War II buffs will get the reference), who really is the power behind the throne. Adrian Lester, Nora-Jane Noone, Darren Morfitt and reliable Sean Pertwee play members of Eden's assault team--shades of James Cameron's Aliens--although few of them are in one piece by the end credits. Such are the perils of being an actor in this sort of film. Another "old-school" favorite, Malcolm McDowell, provides expository narration (a lot of it) and his own brand of tasty British ham (sliced just right) to his role of the scientist Kane, who has forsaken science--and society--for a more medieval motif in a world gone wild. Like Hoskins, McDowell hasn't much time onscreen, but there's something pleasing about having him here. This is a film that favors style over substance, but there are opportunities for the actors to strut their stuff in spirited fashion. As bruised, bloodied or beheaded as the actors get, they all seem to be having fun.
Without question, Neil Marshall is one of the fast-rising talents in the fantasy genre--a genre he has clearly studied well. He brings a keen insight, and manages to "borrow" elements and inspiration from other films in a way that doesn't insult those films, doesn't diminish his own work, and--more importantly--doesn't insult the audience, some of whom will surely recognize those inspirations and nods (Doomsday is filled with them). This is, however, one of the more cold-blooded efforts of Marshall's young career. It's about an inhumane future, and the film is suffused with that emotional resonance--or lack thereof. The humor, such as it is, is blunt and bloody, and the irony no less smoothly rendered. Nevertheless, this promises slam-bang action and it certainly delivers. In an era where so many horror and science-fiction films are cut to achieve a PG-13 rating, often to the detriment of the end result, Doomsday is bloody proud to go for that R rating!
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 1/2 stars.