The actors are top of the line. Jeff Bridges plays the title role and apparently has been trying to get this movie made for a while. Meryl Streep and Katie Homes both play minor roles.
The basic plot is dystopian. That is society has become dominated by a strange ideology. It is pro-science and anti-religion. Really it is against anything we might fight over like politics and love. It is managed to the point of picking people's careers and drugging every person, every day so they don't complain.
Young people come of age and begin to question it all. What puts him over the top and convinces him this society is evil? The death of a newborn. An unwanted child is killed. He responds by saying something like, "They have not eliminated war and violence and murder. They have institutionalized it and given it another name."
It is hard not to think of the abortion debate where the killing of children has been renamed and a whole industry has been built up around it. It is ironic because one of the core values of this advanced society was precision of language and never lying.
It goes a bit to far. In this society they don't even have color. I know it is a metaphor but it is so implausible it bothered me. Yet it mostly works. You care about the characters. You feel the outrage. I just wanted some more at the end. Some clever way of avoiding the danger. Some intense excitement. Something that ties in the loose ends and makes you go Wow. There is a speech near the end but it is not that great and it does not change anything.
Apparently in the book the main character is a lot younger. He is 12 rather than 18. The actor in the movie is actually 25. So a lot of what happens might have been all you can expect from a 12 year old. He can't get the girl. He can't get in a big fight or car chase with the police. All he can do is bike real fast and ride a sled. That is a bit lame when a 25 year old does it.