VOD Review: The Humanity Bureau
Nicolas Cage stars in The Humanity Bureau, a movie that steals its first half from Bladerunner 2049 and its back half from Logan. It does neither any justice.
When I went to return Batman Ninja to my local Redbox, they offered me a free rental. I had noticed on their website that Nicolas Cage had made a movie that is a Redbox exclusive until June. I said “Why Not?”, although any of a million different reasons would have sufficed. I then forgot about the movie for 3 days, turning my free rental into a pricey proposition. This morning I was honor-bound to watch The Humanity Bureau. I should have just returned it. Insult to Injury, really.
The Humanity Bureau (2018)
Noah Kross (Cage) is an agent for The Humanity Bureau, a department in 2030 America that makes sure every citizen is productive… or else. Non-productive citizens are deported to New Eden, a concentration camp masquerading as Utopia. When Kross learns the truth behind New Eden, he must cross his own bureau to save a woman and her son from being the next deportees.
Bargain Bin Bladerunning
As I watched the first 35 minutes of The Humanity Bureau, I had the feeling of deja vu. Only really chintzy deja vu, like my mind didn’t have enough funding for the phenomenon to run in HD. Noah’s first case, his vague recollections of a dream, his string of happy coincidences being held up as hard boiled detective work… it all felt so familiar. That is because this film steals shamelessly from Bladerunner 2049, just without any futuristic sci-fi trappings. The plot is almost note for note, with “renegade worker robots” being replaced with “retrograde normal people”.
All I’m saying is, if you wanted to watch a boring, cheap as hell version of a superior film, I guess you’ll like The Humanity Bureau.
If the first half needs a visit from Denis Villenueve‘s lawyers, the second half is ducking and hiding from James Mangold. Once on the Lamb, Kross and Co., take a page out of the road trip to freedom that was 2017’s masterpiece Logan. The kid is actually Noah’s (much like X-23 and Logan)? Check. A random 3rd wheel to keep reminding Noah he’s not heartless? Yup. A shadowy government agency hounding them relentlessly? Oh yeah, this movie isn’t even hiding it anymore. FFS, they’re escaping to his childhood home in Canada!
Once again, this movie suffers by being a horribly chintzy version of a much, much better film. The one “big” action sequence is Nick inexplicably not getting shot by a ton of mooks who appear to have explicit instructions to shoot directly behind a man running in an obvious straight line. Which is par for the course for an agency that we watch be unable to shoot, fight, or even sneak up on a guy that they had dead to rights seven or eight times.
One time, they let the boy go because he says he’s going to retrieve the central baddy’s false eye. The false eye he needs because the same boy shot it out! The Humanity Bureau might have been trying to say something political (it does show a MAGA poster and a picture of Trump), but it proves another political point: don’t believe in conspiracy theories, because people are stupid, and the more you add, the dumber we get. These Jamokes couldn’t keep the lid on a sale at Arby’s.
Meh, The Humanity
Everything else is painfully bland. Nicolas Cage apparently took his crazy pills this time around, and his acting is sedate and dull. The vistas aren’t dystopian: they’re just cheap. Everything looks like it was filmed wherever was cheapest, and it lacks flavor. By aping two really good films, every little cop-out is brought into stark relief. If you are going to imitate royalty, you need swagger and decidedly less shabby duds.
On the bright side, I can finally return The Humanity Bureau. A small price to pay, but had I known I wasn’t getting a crazy-pants Cage film, I would have elected to just have a bunch of bees swarm my face rather than watch The Humanity Bureau. At least that would have been exciting.