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Review: written Oct 2009

Unashamed B-movie mayhem


It's all been seen before, and this movie won't be the one to remember when you're discussing exploitation movies down the pub... but for all that, it does its job efficiently enough and does what it sets out to.

For the most part, what it is setting out to do seems to be to homage other movies. It's set in a future world where an incurable disease called the Reaper virus (cos it's deadly, geddit..?) has led to a Scotland completely sealed off from land, air or sea to allow the population to die without infecting anyone else. However, 25 years after the virus appeared and was contained, it has resurfaced, and a team must re-enter Scotland, to investigate recent indications of survivors, which could mean a cure is possible. The build up and plot exposition are effective, evoking some of the ideas from 28 Days Later, and the scene where the armoured cars enter Glasgow rips off the scene in Aliens with armoured car carrying the marines to the centre of the aliens nest, down to the smallest details. From Aliens, the director moves on to a Scottish variation on Mad Max's Thunderdome, as we meet the punkish degenerate subculture which has taken over the city. Finally the movie brings all the pieces together in a car chase which plays like a mixture of Bond and Mad Max via Escape from New York to a not-quite-satisfying-enough conclusion.

Rhona Mitra plays the team leader, Major Skinner, dressed in unfeasibly tight clothes to accentuate her figure for most of the movie. She does the job, but fails to really set the screen alight with the necessary charisma to make the B-movie nonsense memorable. Supporting roles are filled out with a few British cinema stalwarts - Sean Pertwee, Bob Hoskins, Malcolm McDowell and Alexander Siddig all perfom just to the level required and not much more. It's action packed, bloody and gruesome and often gratuitous, but never goes quite over the top enough to be too offensive. That is perhaps an indication of the director's intention to make a tongue in cheek apocalyptic thriller that does not take itself too seriously - and in that he has succeeded. But in using a script riddled with plot holes and unlikely conveniences, he has failed to make something unmissable - or even truly memorable.

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