It's like Children of Men with exploding-plasma shock effects. The best thing you can say about the movie is that it pours some very old blood into a new plastic bottle.
The Spierigs make some nice metaphysical points and commission some spiffy design, but resort to less-than-blood-heat thriller moves in the final third. Still very watchable, though.
In the end, Daybreakers doesn't really want to make anyone think too hard. If that were to happen, they might stop to wonder why all the human survivors out there hiding in fear of their lives don't just become garlic farmers and call it a day.
Just when you think popular culture has exhausted all the metaphorical and allegorical possibilities, the film unifies all the usual tropes (bloodlust, heliophobia, fangs) into a complete science fiction whole.
Wearisome "Ain't it cool?" video-game splatter-violence is all that's memorable of the action, while a (mixed) metaphorical subtext of conservationism can't save a text that squanders its actors.
Despite the Spierig brothers' punchy visual style and satiric tone, Daybreakers eventually devolves, though Dafoe and his Southern drawl goose things up and Hawke has a greasy romanticism.
Daybreakers finally comes up with some comments on the predatory practices of Big Pharma, but that's an awful comedown from the blood-rushing brilliance of the early scenes.
This intriguing premise, alas, ends as so many movies do these days, with fierce fights and bloodshed. Inevitably, the future of the planet will be settled among the handful of characters we've met, and a lot of extras with machineguns.
Peter and Michael Spierig's earlier, campier horror outing, the zombie picture known as Undead, was even bloodier than this one. The movie-makers are after bigger game here, and a subtler mixture of speculative nightmare and action film.
Writer-directors Michael and Peter Spierig equip this unpretentious, low-budget, high-functioning shocker with some sharp satirical teeth, and Dafoe has a ball behind his Manson goatee.
For the lowbrow, the thrill is a level of fleshy explosiveness reminiscent of David Cronenberg's Scanners. No one dies quietly; he must either detonate like Hiroshima or burst into juicy red chunks of viscera.