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‘The Secret Children’

by Kaori Shoji

Hiroshi Nakajima is one of the few Japan-born directors working in Hollywood, and his second feature, “The Secret Children,” opens tomorrow. Exploring the issue of human clones with an all-American cast, “Children” has the uminstakable sheen of a made-in-the-USA sci-fi thriller. That said, Nakajima’s film (he also penned the screenplay) is perhaps too American. Here was a perfect opportunity for a Japanese filmmaker to delve into the morality of cloning and the repercussions of bio-tech carried out in the name of progress, but “Children” makes a dash for hard action and hardly ever looks back.

In a near-future first-world country called X, 30,000 clones were created to supplement a dwindling population. More than three decades later, a new president orders the execution of the clones, labeling them a “threat to mankind.” The clones are hunted down and murdered, but a couple (August Coryell and Jamie Bernadette) form a resistance group to fight back, culminating in a battle between two camps: the humans versus the “copies,” who are actually just as human, or even more so. The premise is intriguing, but the story swerves into action extravaganza and it all rings very familiar. Nakajima’s craftsmanship, though, is seamless.