I suspect the props department had an excess of corn syrup. And gunpowder. Because really, did there have to be so much violence?
That said, the film isn’t terribly gory. The death count includes most of Scotland, several English people, a few cows, and a crazy tattooed ninja lady, who dies before she is able to get annoying. I have no doubt in my mind that she would have gotten annoying given much longer. But the film isn’t horrifically gory. Mostly, it’s just bloody. Really bloody. And at least one person is roasted alive. And several are decapitated. And bits are squished. It’s utterly outrageous.
In 2008 (that would be now), a virus breaks out in Scotland. Known as the Reaper virus, the victims are infected with bloody, pus-filled sores which make them look utterly disgusting before they collapse in a dramatic fashion . The virus is highly contagious, and it is dealt with like the bubonic plague that its symptoms resemble - through quarantine. Hadrian’s Wall is rebuilt, dividing Britain in half - with northern England and Scotland left to die.
Twenty-seven years later, in 2035, the virus begins to appear again, in the crowded and crazed city of London. Aware of survivors beyond the wall, the government sends a team of soldiers to find them and, most importantly, whatever it is that allowed them to survive.
This team includes one of the last evacuees, Eden Sinclair played by Rhona Mitra (who looks rather like Kate Beckinsale in Underworld, with the hairstyle she’s sporting). Despite an extensive filmography, she wasn’t previously known to me - at least, not consciously. However, she did appear in A Kid in Aladdin’s Court a movie that’s almost impossible to find these days (and which also included Thomas Ian Nicholas). That series has a fairly good pedigree, despite its obscurity, since the prequel also starred Daniel Craig and Kate Winslet (before they were famous). She’s also appeared in Stuck On You, as a background character, and as Kate Hedges in Ali G in da House (you remember, the sexy PA). She’s playing a rather different character here - rather than being a seductress she’s a fighter, loosely based on Snake Plissken from the John Carpenter films Escape from New York and Escape from LA. Describing herself as having “lost her mind” (an accurate description), she also lost her mother and her eye when evacuated. This doesn’t hinder her, with the glass eye becoming a rather neat piece of technology.
She’s backed up by a number of actors including Bob Hoskins, Craig Conway (as a mad, mohawked, cannibal), Alexander Siddig (as a rather more appealing Prime Minister than Gordon Brown), Malcolm MacDowell (as a scientist even madder than the rest of the characters), and David O’Hara (a bad, bad man). The script isn’t amazing; it contains what should be good, dramatic lines, but which actually come across as someone trying too hard to remind us of James Bond.
The movie was filmed in Scotland itself - including shots of Queen Street Station looking pleasingly savage - and South Africa (because you can’t just overrun Scotland with hundreds of cows and then light flares). There’s an interesting soundtrack, and the punk-rock culture of the imprisoned survivors is sometimes reminiscent of Queen of the Damned. Fortunately, the impromptu vaudeville-style rock concert doesn’t go on for too long before getting back to straightforward violence. Although, to its credit, it does include several large bearded Scottish men doing the can-can. In kilts. While sharing the stage with pole dancers.
The film seems to be a mish-mash of elements from films we’ve seen before, with an added dash of complete and utter insanity. It’s ludicrous to the point where you just have to go with it, and, at only ninety-five minutes long, you may as well take the time (if you’re going to be bad, do it at breakneck speed).
It’s enjoyable, but the main thing that that audience takes from it is that the British are completely and irrevocably insane.
Something we suspected anyway.
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