Doomsday (2008)

Doomsday (2008)

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He didn't think she was taking their game of hide and seek seriously.
He didn’t think she was taking their game of hide and seek seriously.

Twitter Plot Summary: After a virus leaves Scotland quarantined, a special ops officer is sent in to find a cure after the virus spreads south.

Five Point Summary:

1. Quarantining Scotland? Typical English move.
2. Why is there a gimp sat in the corner? Actually, don’t answer that.
3. So long Sean Pertwee. As expected.
4. Poor Dr Bashir.
5. It’s all gone a bit Mad Max.

Neil Marshall’s films often pay extensive homage to other genre favourites, and Doomsday is no different, transferring Escape From New York to the equally beautiful locale of er, Glasgow. Thirty-odd years after a virus forces the English to seal off the border with Scotland (as if they really needed an excuse) at the site of the old Hadrian’s Wall – including Newcastle, sadly – those left behind the wall are trapped within a quarantine zone where Scotland operates as it did before – lawlessness, barbarism and random killings are the order of the day. I jest, of course – that’s just weekends in Glasgow. After the virus somehow makes its way south to London (completely missing the remaining north of England and the Midlands – mysterious!), Rhona Mitra is given command of a team of commandos and sent over the wall to try and find a cure. It’s not long before it all goes to pot and the gore starts to fly.

Meanwhile back in London Dr Bashir from Star Trek DS9 is the Prime Minister (who’d have seen that one coming?), who’s content to sit back and wait whilst Rhona Mitra’s team does all the work on the other side of the wall. He also has to contend with the “50 a day” throaty voice of David O’Hara’s Canaris, and his lofty political ambitions. He also has to contend with Bob Hoskins, who isn’t anywhere near his usual level of excellence and mostly sleepwalks through his performance. Rhona Mitra is an odd choice for the lead, given that the best gigs she had previously were “naked girl assaulted by Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man” and as a real life model portraying video game heroine Lara Croft. She does okay with the material, if nothing amazing. Sean Pertwee also turns up as a commando-type officer so you know he’ll probably die before we reach the final act. Has any of Sean Pertwee’s characters ever made it to the end of a film? I’m assuming not.

Dr Julian Bashir. With a beard.
Dr Julian Bashir. With a beard.

Whilst the plot is hardly original, the film does at least have Neil Marshall’s typical stylish flair and buckets of gore. As far as the visual style goes, it does at least look good in that usual “post apocalyptic” way, although the descent of the Scots into anarchy seems a little far fetched given that only 20 years has passed. In any case, it wouldn’t be much of a film if they were all sat behind the wall doing a bit of knitting and gently conversing over a glass of scotch. There’s a sense of fun to the script, but mostly it’s taken very seriously. Well, except for parts like the gladiatorial battle between Mitra and some guy in heavy armour – the presence of Malcolm McDowell in the scene does nothing but force events into cheesy territory. Otherwise, Doomsday is genre cinema at its finest; not to be taken too seriously and enjoyed despite any misgivings you might have as the story plays out. Ignore the blatant references to those better genre films and enjoy it for what it is – unashamed escapism entertainment.

Score: 3/5

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