Director – Rob King, Screenplay – Dave Schultz, Producers – Kelly-Rae Buchan, Kevin Dewalt & Danielle Masters, Photography – Mark Dobrescu, Music – Todd Bryanton, Visual Effects Supervisor – Jack Tunnicliffe, Visual Effects – Allegiance Studios (Supervisor – Milton Muller), Special Effects Supervisor – Gary Minielly, Production Design – Kathy McCoy. Production Company – Minds Eye Entertainment/Bridgegate Pictures Corp./Invico Capital/The Fyzz Facility.
Nicolas Cage (Noah Kross), Sarah Lind (Rachel Weller), Jakob Davies (Lucas Weller), Hugh Dillon (Adam Westinghouse), Vicellous Shannon (Agent Porter), Kurt Max Runte (Adolf Schroder), David Lovgren (Irving Ravetch), Leanna Brodie (Farmer), Mel Tuck (Chester Hills)
It is in the future after the USA has been devastated by economic collapse and global warming. The privileged remain in walled cities and the rest of humanity eke out a living in the wasteland beyond. The Humanity Bureau has been created to relocate those who are unable to support themselves to New Eden. Noah Kross is a Humanity Bureau agent whose job it is to travel outside the cities and assess those who have been assigned to be relocated. After he goes to evaluate Rachel Weller and her son Lucas, Noah decides they cannot be sent to New Eden. Seeking to protect them, he rebels against his superiors and sets out with the two of them on a road journey to cross the border into Canada, even though all that awaits them there may only be a radioactive wasteland. Coming in hot pursuit is Noah’s superior Adam Westinghouse who is determined to stop him.
Nicolas Cage has not had a very good run when it comes to genre material. Most of his ventures into science-fiction and fantasy have all bombed in one way or another – look at Ghost Rider (2007) and in particular Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012), Next (2007), Knowing (2009), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) and Left Behind (2014), although the bodyswap film Face/Off (1997) is well regarded by sites other than this one. His run in horror work is even less inspiring – remember The Wicker Man (2006), Season of the Witch (2011), Pay the Ghost (2015) and his wholly demented performance in Vampire’s Kiss (1988). As with Left Behind and Pay the Ghost, you get the feeling that Cage has an overdue tax bill or child support payments to keep up and is taking whatever paying gig is being offered to him irrespective of the quality of the material.
I held some promise for The Humanity Bureau as it started. Part of my mind kept associating it with the smart Matt Damon film The Adjustment Bureau (2011) – even as I was typing this out I had to correct writing one for the other. The image of the haves living in domed cities and havenots in the desert wasteland outside seem a promising one. Not to mention that in the opening scenes where Nicolas Cage goes to relocate Mel Tuck, you can see a ‘Make America Great Again’ poster located on the wall of his room, a catchphrase that was synonymous with the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign, which suggests that The Humanity Bureau is digging its teeth in with a strong political bite.
Only The Humanity Bureau emerges as uninteresting in every conceivable way. Indeed, the question you come away with is why Nicolas Cage ended up top-lining what is essentially a piece of throwaway cable filler. Usually this is the sort of item I would find airing in the wee hours of the morning or in the 50c bargain bins back in the day of the videostore.
The film radiates cheapness – the wasteland setting is no more than some desert locations that a few cars drive around in, Even worse is the tired and uninspiring plot, which seems to have been largely uplifted from Logan’s Run (1976) – the policeman of a totalitarian future who is tasked with euthanizing members of the populace until he suddenly develops feelings for one of his targets and rebels against the system and heads off with her in a search for a mythical sanctuary, Even the big twist about what is really happening is one that you can predict five minutes into the film.