Call me crazy, but this movie made me think. Yes, it is a B-movie, but as George Romero has shown us there are some subjects that can only be addressed by B-movies. These films are usually...believe it or not...allegories. Yes, "Doom" is a layman's allegory. In the abstract it is considering collective unconscious questions about the young men our country is sending out to kill for us right now under the banner of "Good" and, further, about the killings committed by our entire race. Can psychotics do "Good"? Can good men murder and remain essentially good? Is it a moot point whether humans are responsible for being individually psychotic or not? Believe it or friggin' not, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson appears in a film that not only addresses these questions, but addresses them in the abstract.
Not to rag on the Rock, who I like. He isn't, however, in top form presence-wise (in playing his first real not-animated villain he glowers and barks when it would be more creepy and effective if he were just reasonable). Nobody really is. Despite the above paragraph "Doom" still wasn't a good movie, or even as fun as another similar vid-game movie "Resident Evil" (the first one, the second was excrement). The question then is: Where does this stuff come from? I believe the answer is co-screenwriter Wesley Strick. Strick has written other movies that approach high-concept, such as "Wolf" (a B-movie in A-movie clothing...of course then it would have been called "Manimal") and...tellingly..."True Believer." Also the recent, wretched "The Glass House" which, obviously, has somewhat to do with privacy issues. If it be thought this should merit flagellation, at least he co-wrote the Scorcese "Cape Fear" too.
Far be it from me to suggest the auteur theory for Andrej Bartkowiak, whose "Romeo Must Die" and "Cradle 2 the Grave" did technically deal with issues of race and class. He is really best known as a cinematographer and for his multicamera shooting technique. In "Cradle 2 the Grave" he would have 3-5 cameras running at once. Of course, that makes it so that is looks like the dancing in Chicago: cut up legs and arms so it looks like you are hiding that they can't really do it, which is just as ridiculous in the case of Jet Li as it was in the case of Catherine Zeta-Jones; if they can do the stuff, show them doing it!
Note that these movies are all fair to middling or worse. "Doom" doesn't transcend anything at all, but the point is that all of the cut-out characters don't merely serve a purpose functionally, they all eventually are revealed to serve a purpose thematically. It is not for nothing that Mars and Olduvai (named for the alleged place of origin of humanity in Africa) are often referred to as "hell" or that one of the soldiers carves crosses into his skin when he takes the lord's name in vain, but not when he kills.
The plot is eventually revealed to be a cross between "Resident Evil" and the recent "Serenity": trapped in underground compound with genetic mutations based on predisposition to psychosis. This is when you realize that the different traits we've seen in the different characters have been leading up to this, what better sample than soldiers to have about a 50% psychosis rate? The psychosis in a few of the soldiers is obvious, very obvious, as is the lack of psychosis in...well...one of the soldiers, The Kid. There is an interesting split with two of the soldiers: "Destroyer" is a killing machine (ah, video game talk) but as you observe from his behavior he is not psychotic, whereas "Duke," while not being so violent, is still psychotic as you can glean by his inappropriate behavior concerning women. Another character's psychosis is revealed by his selfish cowardice, he's willing to let hundreds of people get torn apart to save himself. Resting exactly on the divide, intentionally, is Karl Urban as "Reaper", he's sort of the video-game-movie version of Harvey Keitel in "Fingers" or Joe in "Golden Boy."
We eventually arrive at the old "kill those Vietnamese villagers, soldier!No Sarge!" moment, where the dialogue seems to have been chosen carefully. Not that I can remember it (remember, it's not actually a good movie). It has something to do with Sarge (Rock) ordering the soldiers not to think (explicitly) and telling them that all he wants are soldiers, just soldiers. Well, "JUST SOLDIERS!!!!!!!" anyway. That's when you might start to think about what the powers that be (in this case again a militaryindustrial complex that basically runs the government with its influence) want in their police force and populace: they want (to draft the Matrix) ordinary average Joe Smith to be able to turn into an Agent Smith murdering machine in a second that will do anything they say, then wash his hands with GSK Antibacterial soap and return to shopping, he can deal with his PTSD on his own time. Of course, the Kid should have thought about how when you join the army you are forfeiting your autonomy and if your commanding officer tells you to kill prisoners, civilians or, say, Jews, you can't say no. Well, you can, but watch what happens. It gives the lie to the Army's "Soldier. Citizen." recruiting campaign.
Let's not forget, getting that out of a movie like "Doom" is like finding out "Twinkies" prevent heart-disease. It was a good thing I had the rest of that to think about, because the movie itself was...undistinguished. I once had an English teacher who said that reading too much into something makes it like petting a dissected cat. Meow. In the end, "Good" saves the planet, but "Evil" owns the planet.
Review by mockturtle from the Internet Movie Database.