March 20, 2008

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Doomsday (R)
Rhona Mitra completely redeems herself from her irksome Nip/Tuck guest role a couple of seasons back with this role as the one-eyed, cannibal-thug-fighting, futuristic-London detective Eden Sinclair in Doomsday, an explodey cheesefest of improbable action and primal-grunt-out-loud-inducing scenes of medieval brawling.

Or maybe I just needed, after all these costume dramas and fairy tale-like comedies, a little campy violence to clear the palate.

Eden (Mitra), you see, was one of the last people to escape Scotland when the rest of the UK sealed up its northern brethren behind a giant metal Hadrianís Wall-like structure meant to quarantine the inhabitants who were believed all a loss to some horrible pox-like plague. Eden lost an eye and her mother in the escape and now, nearly 30 years later, sheís all full of piss and vinegar, as her boss Bill Nelson (Bob Hoskins) observes. She takes down some smugglers with the help of her fake eye, which she can pop out and roll ahead of her, watching the action on a watch-mounted monitor. This tough cookie is the first one Nelson thinks of when heís told to get a force together to lead an excursion back into the hot zone of Scotland. The plague ó called the Reaper Virus ó has appeared in London but meanwhile government satellites have been monitoring some human activity in Glasgow, previously thought to be an empty city. Her mission will be to find the cure that allowed these people to survive and bring it back to the rest of Britain so the government can save some of the remaining population.

Eden gets a team of soldiers and medical personnel ó letís call them The Expendables ó together and they saddle up in armored cars for the trip back into her home country. They manage to make it to the city and creep around a hospital a bit before a mohawked and tattooed gang of hooligans appears to chase down and capture the soldiers. Some of them die gruesome deaths, some escape to be killed later in the movie and one unfortunate man is captured, cooked and eaten.

Eden, like all good sarcastic-quip-spouting heroes, lives long enough to get questioned by King of the Cannibal Horde Sol (Craig Conway) and escape and then get caught by Kane (Malcolm McDowell), the scientist turned King Lear-wannabe from whom Eden had hoped to get the cure. But, embittered because the government locked him away with the infected, Kane has now taken to a castle in the hills where he and his followers play a full-contact version of Medieval Times.

Eden picks up some friends among the survivors along the way, stumbles into a family feud and uncovers a couple of levels of government conspiracy. She fights motorcycle-riding thugs and horse-riding full-armor-wearing knights. She wields all manner of weaponry. And, in an extended chase sequence, she stars in what might just be the greatest BMW ad ever. (A luxury sedan that can drive through a bus filled with cannibal punks? Iím sold.) Maybe big chunks of Doomsday donít make sense. I wouldnít know; I was too busy cheering on all the hand-to-hand combat and perfectly timed gun fire, the explosions and the nick-of-time escapes. B+

Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexual content/nudity. Written and directed by Neil Marshall, Doomsday is an hour and 45 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Universal.