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Children of Men (R)

Cast: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Charlie Hunnam, Michael Caine

Release Date: December 25, 2006

Runtime: 1 hr. 49 mins.

Genre: SciFi/Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller

A futuristic society faces extinction when the human race loses the ability to reproduce. England has descended into chaos, until an iron-handed warden is brought in to institute martial law. The warden's ability to keep order is threatened when a woman finds that she is pregnant with what would be the first child born in 27 years.

Review

The futuristically bleak Children of Men combines non-stop, edge-of-your-seat action with deep, powerful societal messages. A genuine thrill ride with a soul.

Story

Based on British mystery writer P.D. James’ rather downbeat novel, Men takes place in the not-too-distant future, where the world is definitely not right. In fact, society is facing extinction since the human race has lost the ability to reproduce; there hasn’t been a new child born in 18 years. But as the tagline reads, “…all that can change in a heartbeat.” While the rest of England is unraveling as civil unrest runs rampant, a young woman named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) is found miraculously pregnant, and Theo (Clive Owen), a disillusioned government agent, agrees to help secretly transport her to a sanctuary at sea where her child's birth may help scientists save the future of mankind. So sets in motion a race against time, fraught with many horrific obstacles.

Acting

Children of Men collects a first-rate cast. Leading the pack is Owen, as yet another reluctant antihero. It’s a good part for the somewhat depressive actor, who seems at ease when everything is going to hell around him (see Inside Man, Closer, etc.). Theo is initially drawn into the Kee conflict because his ex-wife, a terrorist/activist--played with brief but quiet determination by Julianne Moore—asks him to. See, they share their own personal tragedy, so saving Kee and the baby becomes even more important to them. Newcomer Ashitey shines as Kee, who really doesn’t understand at all what is happening to her but has a fair amount of spunk anyway. Other standouts include Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots), as one of Moore’s compadres with his own nefarious agenda, and Michael Caine, as an old friend of Theo--a throwback to a more peaceful time. Representing both old and new school, Ejiofor and Caine are actors you can simply put in any film and somehow they will make them that much better.

Direction

But Children of Men’s true brilliance comes from its creator. Co-writer/director Alfonso Cuaron is simply one of the most exciting cinematic storytellers working today. No genre is out of his reach. He has done kiddie flicks (A Little Princess), sexy coming-of-age dramas (Y Tu Mama Tambien)—and even a splashy Harry Potter installment (Prisoner of Azkaban, probably the best one so far). And now Men, a futuristic thriller that he crafts with absolute bone-chilling effect. Cuaron’s world is not a very happy place, with the skies consistently gray with pollution and violence, injustice and human cruelty around every corner. When Theo and Kee are on the run, you’re expecting the worst at any moment, but that’s not really where Cuaron’s head is at. He wants us to have hope. As the director puts it in the film’s production notes, “Humanity has an amazing talent for destruction. But also, we can show solidarity and an ability to come through problems together. In the end, Children of Men isn’t so much about humanity being destructive—its more about ideologies coming between people’s judgment and their actions that is at work in this story.” I couldn’t have said it any better.

Bottom Line


Hollywood.com rated this film 4 stars.

Synopsis

A futuristic society faces extinction when the human race loses the ability to reproduce. England has descended into chaos, until an iron-handed warden is brought in to institute martial law. The warden's ability to keep order is threatened when a woman finds that she is pregnant with what would be the first child born in 27 years.

Stills