Children Of Men

Children Of Men

****1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Once the future was Blade Runner. Now it's Gaza, 2006.

The year is 2027. The war on terror was lost decades earlier. Now the world is chaos, mayhem, murder and Biblical havoc. Except for little Britain. No, not Little Britain, but this tiny island kingdom, where a fascist-style government dictates, backed by battalions of American-style uniformed killers, masquerading as soldiers. Immigrants are systematically rounded up Nazi-style and flung into cages, from where they are bussed out, shipped out, shot, or forgotten.

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Theo (Clive Owen) used to be a protester in his student days. He cared. He had a child with Julian (Julianne Moore), when she was active in the anti-government movement. The child became a boy and then died in the flu pandemic of 2009. Theo and Jules lost touch. For 20 years. Theo became a civil servant, working in The Ministry of Energy.

He smokes and drinks too much. He doesn't believe in the value of violence as a weapon of change in a world that had become infertile. The last baby born was 18 years ago and that boy, now a young man, has just been crushed to death in South America when a crowd descended upon him, demanding autographs.

One thing saves Theo; one thing keeps him from the mad house - his sense of irony.

It's not the rubbish in the streets, the burnt corpses of farm animals, the constant fear of the police, the terrorist bombs that explode at random that makes life unbearable. It's the thought that this is it. There is no future because there are no children to inherit the future.

Theo is kidnapped in broad daylight in Camden. This cannot be happening. Why him? He's terrified. The group responsible is a rough bunch of loudmouth thugs, lead by a woman. She says, "Take off his hood." He recognises her. It is Julian. She has a favour to ask.

Almost without realising it, Theo is drawn into a dangerous plot to accompany an African girl, called Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), through check points and illegal areas to a port, from where she will be picked up by a boat and taken to The Human Project, a place somewhere out there, reputedly protected from the detritus and poison of what has become modern death. The girl carries hope. She is a miracle and, as such, a valuable political pawn.

Futuristic movies have a tendency to overindulge CGI. If the gadgets and special effects are too fanciful, they become the tools of sc-fi, another form of fantasy. Children Of Men, based on a novel by P D James, is only too believable and directed by Alfonso Cuarón with a passion that does not question the truth, nor debase its integrity with clever camera angles. Tension builds to a point of bursting and lives have value beyond the horror of maximum force.

As well as solid central roles and an unsentimental script, there are treasured cameo performances from Michael Caine as a dope smoking radical hermit, Peter Mullan as a coastguard enforcer and Danny Huston as a gay government arts minister.

This is a film that takes no prisoners. It will live long in the memory.

Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2006
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Conspiracy surrounds the birth of a child in an infertile post-apocalyptic world.
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Read more Children Of Men reviews:

Anton Bitel ****1/2
Chris ****1/2

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Writer: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, based on the novel by P D James

Starring: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam, Danny Huston, Peter Mullan, Pam Ferris, Oana Pellea, Jacek Koman

Year: 2006

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, US, Japan

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