Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2014. Asis Productions, Canada Film Capital, Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa, Tonik Productions, Walden Media, The Weinstein Company. Screenplay by Michael Mitnick, Robert B. Weide, based on the book by Lois Lowry. Cinematography by Ross Emery. Produced by Jeff Bridges, Neil Koenigsberg, Nikki Silver. Music by Marco Beltrami. Production Design by Ed Verreaux. Costume Design by Diana Cilliers. Film Editing by Barry Alexander Brown.
In this humorless update of Logan’s Run, Brenton Thwaites plays a young man who has grown up in a post-apocalyptic society, humanity having perfected cohabitation on a reduced Earth by removing all traces of emotional insecurity. Medication keeps all passions at their lowest possible levels, humans are born factory-style in labs and given to non-relations to be raised in sterile environments, their language policed to exclude any unnecessary excess of feeling and their future careers decided by governing elders. When Thwaites is given the assignment of becoming “The Receiver”, he is taken under the care of a wise old man (Jeff Bridges with an inexplicably frustrating mumble) to learn everything about humanity since the beginning of time. Keeping a hold on this radically antiseptic way of life requires one person to know about everything from the past (war, rock concerts, visual art, rock climbing), in order to better help the governing council make decisions in times of crisis. The process of learning about the big world outside his plastic bubble, however, inspires Thwaites (performing with effective sincerity) to actually rebel from his family (including parents Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard) and risk angering the decision-making elder (Meryl Streep) who keeps watch over everyone’s movements. It’s a smooth and polished adventure that is quite entertaining, but it’s surprisingly simple in execution for a director with the caliber that Phillip Noyce has brought to better films like Dead Calm and Rabbit-Proof Fence. Its main flaws are the inexplicable moments of supernatural occurrences (Bridges transmits thoughts and memories from his brain to his protégé’s and we don’t really know why) and a rushed ending that is pure nonsense. Streep has a great time vamping it up as the sci-fi heavy, but the loopy stylistics of the 1970s Michael York adventure would have made it so much more worthwhile.