The title refers to the main food product of those days: made of soy + lentil, thus soylent. Set in New York City in the year 2022, "Soylent Green" is a scary look at Earthís possible future. Forty million people populate New York City, and Charlton Heston, as "Detective Thorn", is assigned to investigate the murder of one of the Directors of the Soylent Corporation, the leading food supplier of the world.
Recommend this product?
Thorn finds the murdered director, played by Joseph Cotten in an excellent though brief appearance, had just been to confession, for the first time in many years. This little tidbit of information supplies the link that helps Thorn break the case, although what he finds leaves him devastated, both physically and spiritually.
The Soylent factories are like government arsenals, super secret and guarded. No one gets in or out. The populace is so dependent upon Soylentís output that riots occur frequently if there is any interruption of the food supply. Soylent Green is the newest product in their line, purportedly made from plankton from the oceans.
Helping Thorn tie all the loose ends together is his "Book", "Sol", played by Edward G. Robinson in his last screen appearance. Robinson adds a poignancy to his role that has seldom been equaled on the silver screen. In an age of chaos, Sol is a link with the past, sort of a living database of facts that Thorn can use for research. You see, without electricity even a computer is useless.
From secret Soylent Corporation reports found in the murdered manís home, Sol determines that the oceans have been dying, there is no plankton. The true main ingredient of Soylent Green is tied to the production of the euthanasia centers, eerily prescient of the assisted suicide philosophy seen today. Sol is so devastated by his discovery that he decides to "go home", to die in a euthanasia center. Thorn attends Solís ceremony and learns the secret about the oceans. He follows the shrouded body to the processing center where it is loaded on a garbage truck and transported to the secret Soylent factory. There he sees for himself the process that transforms the lifeless bodies into the little green wafers everybody depends on for their daily sustenance.
The climax is thrilling as Thorn is shot down in an old-fashioned gun battle with hit men sent by Soylent. Before he expires, he tells the world, "Soylent Green is people!"
This movie, although produced before special effects were the norm in Hollywood sci-fi movies, wears well due to the solid performances of Heston, Robinson, and supporting actors Brock Peters, Chuck Connors, and Leigh Tayor-Young, in a captivating and believable story.
Read all comments (3)