American audiences turned their nose up at Neil Marshall’s latest, which suggests a serious sense-of-humour failure on that side of the Atlantic. After all, what’s not to love in this grubby, gory, pedal-to-the-metal homage to the post-apocalyptic action thrillers of the ’70s and ’80s?
Well… a bit, to be fair. Saddled with a stop-start script, some dodgy dialogue and a few outbursts of iffy acting, Doomsday flails in too many directions to achieve the relentless ferocity of Dog Soldiers or the chilling intensity of The Descent. It’s the filmmaker’s Grindhouse: a loving collage of genre throwbacks, bundled together with a devil-may-care disregard for internal logic.
Put simply, it’s four movies in one. The opening is all 28 Days Later: plague, panic and a quarantined Scotland. Three decades on we’re in Mad Max territory as robot-eyed commando Rhona Mitra crosses the border in search of a cure, only to find the whole area has been taken over by cannibalistic schemies. Turn left and it’s Excalibur meets Gladiator, with Malcolm McDowell spouting soliloquies in a castle straight out of Monty Python And The Holy Grail. From there, the throttle is cranked up and it’s one wild ride to the finish with a Road Warrior/Death Race crash and burn finale…
Still, you can bet the extended, unrated version, featured on the DVD but not available at press time, allows the movie’s manic trajectory a little more breathing space. But even in its theatrical form, there’s no denying that Doomsday – for all its flaws and fanboy overkill – is one hell of a rush.