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Daybreak
cast: Cuba Gooding Jr, Moira Kelly, Omar Epps, and Martha Plimpton

director: Stephen Tolkin

88 minutes (18) 1993
HBO DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
Originally released in 1993 for TV, Daybreak (aka: Bloodstream) is a futuristic thriller telling the story of a country - America, of course - ravaged by epidemic and in the control of a fascist regime whose nationwide quarantine/ care offer is simply a ruse to lead the infected to their incarceration and inevitable death. Whilst this sounds rather morbid and brings to mind images of concentration camps and ethnic genocide, it wouldn't be an American film without some heroes and a love interest.

Cuba Gooding Jr (Instinct, Shadowboxer) is the hero, and Moira Kelly (One Tree Hill) is the love interest. Omar Epps (House MD) is the ying to their yang as the bad-guy. All three are prominent in the storyline which is based around the resistance to the forced, if slightly conniving, imprisonment with Gooding Jr playing resistance leader, Torch. As you would expect, Kelly's character, Blue, becomes Torch's lover.

This is an interesting film and should be viewed with deference to the fact that it was original broadcast on TV in 1993, and the epidemic being portrayed here is implied as AIDS - as demonstrated by Torch's clumsy condom application - and AIDS at the time of its original release was pretty prominent in the minds of western society. Some would argue that Africa's problem with the self-same disease today is out of sight, out of mind.

In many ways Daybreak could have been a powerful statement on government autocracy and society's attitude to disease and the inherent good within. However, it languishes below that great level that it could have achieved and this is in no small part due to the domination of the love story rather than delivering the action and undoubted political statement therein, but the outstanding cast carry it through and make it a very watchable yarn.

David Eigenberg (Sex In The City) is excellent as Blue's 'lost' brother Steve, and Martha Plimpton is also very good throughout; but it is the relationship between Gooding Jr and Kelly that the story revolves around. The implications of a world subject to such a chilling scenario is not too far beyond the realms of fantasy and whilst this film may be bracketed as sci-fi it is not too deep within the genre to put anti-SF fans off, and indeed it does cut across a few genres.

For a TV movie Daybreak is surprisingly competent. The low budget is apparent throughout and some inconsistencies with commodity availability and a near-apocalyptic world are a tad puzzling, but nonetheless a strong cast has been assembled and they contribute to a good solid film that sets about tackling an issue that is not too far removed from real-life to be believable. When taken in context as to when it was made it is a decent offering for movie fans out there.
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