Jason Statham was originally going to play Desolation Williams, but he was replaced by Ice Cube because the producers needed some star power for the part and Statham instead played the character of Nathan Jericho. Although Mars has a day/night cycle almost identical in length to Earth's, most of the film is set at night.
Mars is shown only once in the daytime, in a flashback when a scientist describes how she found and opened a "Pandora's Box," unleashing the alien spirits. Much of the film was shot in a New Mexican gypsum mine. The pure white gypsum had to be dyed with thousands of gallons of biodegradable red food dye to recreate the Martian landscape.
Plot: 200 years in the future, Mars has been colonized by a high-tech company. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) arrives by train to a Mars mining camp which has cut all communication links with the company headquarters. She's not alone, she is with a group of fellow police officers.
They find the mining camp deserted except for a person in the prison, Desolation Williams (Ice Cube), who seems to laugh about them because they are all going to die. They were supposed to take Desolation to headquarters, but they decide to explore first to know what happened. They find a man inside an encapsulated mining car, which tells them not to open it.
When they do it, he tries to kill them. They must team up together, which is something difficult. However, one of the cops see many strange men with deep scarred and heavily tattooed faces killing the remaining survivers. They really need to leave the place fast. Desolation explains that the miners opened a kind of martian construction in the soil which unleashed red dust.
Those who breathed that dust became violent psycopaths which started to build weapons and kill the uninfected. They changed genetically, becoming distorted but much stronger. They leave the prison with difficulty, but they divise a plan to kill all the genetically modified ex-miners while leaving.
However, the plan goes awry, and only Melanie and Desolation will reach headquarters. She realises that her bosses won't ever believe her. Later, the red dust arrives to headquarters, and Melanie and Desolation will fight once again.