Nicolas Cage has had his ups and downs in more ways than one, but in the case of The Humanity Bureau, we might finally have a movie that is vaguely within the realm of ‘okay’, which is a major plus frankly, given Cage's recent track record of bad movies.
This film offers a portrait of a dystopian future that's almost reflective of today's political and social cultures and environmental situations. It does take some pot-shots at contemporary America, yet it is not too on the nose or preachy about it, and neither does it abandon the ghost of its ideas that it touches upon here. This is the kind of film that focuses more on a deep narrative and complex characters as opposed to showing us more of the world and allowing us to get soaked within the sights and sounds. That could be largely due to its limited budget, which results in some poorly rendered visuals (holy green screen, guys!), although that is kept at a minimum, thankfully.
Essentially, the plot revolves around an agent of the titular Humanity Bureau who goes on the run with a woman and son for reasons that become obvious as the film goes on. It’s more of a character-piece, while also focusing on the ideas it presents and while it is mighty annoying that the budget couldn't fully realise writer Dave Schultz's vision of this quasi-post-apocalyptic world, the story still offers enough to keep one distracted. It also presents us a tale of a man trying to reconnect with his grounded, human roots that caused his breakaway from the Bureau itself. The connection between him and the mother and son is admirably handled, although certain twists in the narrative are easy to spot a mile away if you pay close enough attention.
Cage doesn't appear to be bored out of his brain, which is a miracle frankly, while Sarah Lind gives a solid performance as the mother determined to give her son a better life. However, the pacing is pretty limp, and some viewers could get a little bit bored along the way.
The main problem, though, is that The Humanity Bureau is not special enough to have long legs in the future, and arguably certain plot elements and concepts have been better executed in various other movies before it. Yet, as a dystopian human drama, it can be effective enough to rise above the limitations it bears, and for the most part, the performances are solid enough to make the drama credible. It's by no means a bad viewing experience but it's nothing worth getting excited about and is probably worth rental at best.
THE HUMANITY BUREAU / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ROB W. KING / SCREENPLAY: DAVE SCHULTZ / STARRING: NICOLAS CAGE, SARAH LIND, JAKOB DAVIES / RELEASE DATE: JULY 2ND