Daybreak (1993) – Review

1 Star

Daybreak is a thinly veiled allegory to the AIDS epidemic and the ensuing hysteria it spread across the country in the 1980’s. Before the public revelation of the fatal STD, sex wasn’t viewed as engaging in a form of combat that may result in the loss of life. Based on the stage play by author Alan Bowne titled Beirut, the story is set in a futuristic version of New York City, fascist young bands of police patrol the streets looking to lock up and quarantine anyone deemed sick and a threat to the health of society.

America has been ravaged by a sweeping and deadly epidemic, the government has instituted a nationwide seizure of victims of the disease. Under the guise that they will offer care, but imprisoning the sick in large camps to die. Blue (Moira Kelly) is a naive social worker who discovers a secret band of rebel fighters, rescuing the innocent and offering them medical care. The leader of the group, Torch (Cuba Gooding Jr.) falls for Blue and recruits her into aiding the cause.

Blue’s friend Laurie (Martha Pimplton) grows concerned about the anti-establishment attitude she has adopted and the mysterious man Blue has fallen for. Motivated by jealousy Laurie sets a trap for Blue and Torch, which could result in their deaths if they can’t escape the imperialist government regime. If the pair are executed then the movement dies.

Daybreak is a boring biological thriller that never awakes from its cinematic slumber. The film is split in two halves like it was meant to be aired in two parts. The first 45 minutes are action-oriented and sporadically appealing particularly when Gooding Jr. shows up, but the last half is so slow and without mounting tension the whole project never builds to anything substantial.

Director: Stephen Tolkin
Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr, Moira Kelly, Omar Epps

One thought on “Daybreak (1993) – Review

  1. The reviewer makes some confusing statements about the movie that make me think they may not have seen it, or they were half watching while doing something else. The protagonist Blue is not a social worker, and her friend Laurie is in no way motivated by jealousy and does not knowingly set a trap (these are not debatable aspects of the movie, they just don’t exist). I would hope that if someone is going to take the time to write a review of a film, they would have at least watched it, otherwise who could possibly care what they have to say?

    I think the 1 star rating is glaringly unfair, especially for the time period. I found the movie to be both complicated and touching without falling into most of the hackneyed traps that so many post-apocalyptic films do. Saying that the ending “lead nowhere” surprises me as I found the ending to be heart rending. I felt just as conflicted as the characters as far as what difficult decision had to be made. The entire movie is about choice, and the end is the epitome of that. It is certainly worth watching, for the performances and for a look at the sort of panic the AIDS epidemic caused that lead the writer to fear such a grim future.

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