Manly cult cinema gets cooked up in a casserole of ultra-violent goodness in Doomsday, a revved-up, pedal-to-the-metal flick that's sure to strike a bull's eye into the hearts of early-'80s action enthusiasts everywhere. Take one part Escape From New York, one part Vestron Video medieval romp, and a heavy dose of The Road Warrior, and that's Doomsday in a post-apocalyptic piecrust. While to some, the recipe might stink of ridiculous rehash, it's that exact reason that'll drive others to eventually hoist this sucker onto their shelves right next to The Bronx Warriors or Raiders of Atlantis -- satisfied in knowing that they're not alone in their love for tough characters doing tough stuff in tough, time-is-of-the-essence situations. That's not to say that the picture is without its flaws -- far from it. After the stunning achievement of The Descent, many would have expected something superiorly different from what director Neil Marshall delivers here. Akin to a kid playing in a sandbox, the filmmaker toys with many of his favorite genre milestones and mashes them together with the grace of a technically proficient gorilla. The result is a highly entertaining -- yet slightly sloppy -- ride through big-screen future motor mayhem as channeled through 1981's sensibilities.
Whether it's Doomsday's John Carpenter-infused introduction or the George Miller bullets-on-the-blacktop chase that serves as the finale, there's little doubt that the movie's gonzo gas tank runs best when it's ceremoniously recycling such high-grade film fuel of days gone by. Unfortunately, for all its dismemberments, retro music cues, and the like, the rest of the flick can't help but feel a bit hollow. While the talent in front of the camera is undeniable (thanks to the likes of Bob Hoskins and Malcolm McDowell), there really is not enough substance to make any of the characters truly iconic. By the time the audience is made to buy a dramatic character death leading into the third act, the moment feels artificial, begging the question as to whether it's purposeful schlock (à la Grindhouse) or just hastily thrown together (à la the Resident Evil series). While that great geek debate might live on years down the road, there's one thing that's for sure -- despite any flak it might deservedly get, Doomsday is one hellacious hoot of a great time that will successfully play time and again to the devotees of blood, bullets, and Mohawks out there in film land.