Picks and Pans Review: Daybreak

updated 05/10/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/10/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Sat., May 8, 8 p.m. ET)


In the near future, America has gone fascist. People who are found to have a deadly, sexually transmitted disease that is ravaging the population are branded and dragged off to hellish quarantines. Bands of green-shirted youths roam the streets, preying on the weak and the nonconformists.

In the rubble of New York City, a young girl (Moira Kelly) falls for a leader of the underground (Cuba Gooding Jr.). It's a reverse Orpheus and Eurydice kind of love affair, as she follows him into quarantine.

Omar Epps, Martha Plimpton, Alice Drummond and David Eigenberg costar. John Savage plays the Big Brother-like President and Saturday Night Live's Phil Hartman has an amusing cameo.

The movie presents a nice conceit, but it's too low-budget and small-scale to be convincing. And the AIDS analogy is rather specious. Sci-fi generally seems to work better in lurid B-movie treatments like, for instance, Hardware or The Road Warrior. When it comes to carrying messages, this genre isn't especially good at weight-bearing. Its appeal is flash not substance.

Violence and nudity make Daybreak unsuitable for children.

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