It’s rare to find a film so utterly engrossing that you don’t even realize you’re in a movie theater until the lights go up. Children of Men is one of these elusive films, the tale of a futuristic world thrown into chaos after women mysteriously lose the ability to bear children. With shockingly realistic set designs, striking portrayals of a people on the brink of destruction, and some of the most intensely realized action sequences ever filmed, Children of Men is the most uniquely crafted science fiction masterpiece of the year.
In a futuristic London, the only city remaining that hasn’t destroyed itself from the panic of the nearing extinction of mankind, men scramble to find hope amidst the steadily crumbling war-torn streets. One such man is Theodore Faron (Clive Owen), a listless former activist who has lost touch with humanity save for his jovial friend Jasper (Michael Caine). When a resistance force led by Theo’s ex-wife (Julianne Moore) kidnaps and then bribes him into protecting and transporting the mysteriously pregnant refugee girl Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), he accepts and embarks on a perilous mission fraught with danger, deception, and possibly the last hope for the future of mankind.
The acting in this intense science fiction thriller borders on perfection. Clive Owen is perfectly cast as the mercenary antihero who has lost his bearings on life after the death of his child. With the sparked interest of seeing his wife again and the desire to protect the fragile hope of humanity in the pregnant refugee girl, he finds a chance for redemption and a new light in the darkening world around him. Julianne Moore and Claire-Hope Ashitey turn in excellent performances as strong female characters burdened with harboring mankind’s last chance at survival and Chiwetel Ejiofor again embodies the antagonist, this time with a menacingly deceptive demeanor. As always, Michael Caine manages to steal every scene he’s in with effortless offbeat comedic charm as Theo’s jocose drug smuggling friend Jasper.
Exemplary editing and handheld camerawork truly sets Children of Men apart from other thrillers. With several first person shots and a camera that closely follows Owen’s moves during much of the action, you’ll feel like you’re right there in the heart of the battle. One extended sequence in particular is especially awe-inspiring as the camera never cuts away from Theo as he treks through a sieged hotel crumbling around him from a tank assault outside. Blood, dirt, and smoke from the ongoing firefight assail the unflinching camera which refuses to turn away during the nerve-wracking single shot.
Though no reasons are given for the disastrous events that mark the beginning of extinction for the human race, the reasons to see this film are abundantly clear. Any fan of an immersing cinematic experience will relish in the realistic war-torn imagery, not-so-futuristic setting rife with present day parallels, and captivating performances from an impressive cast. Children of Men will draw you into its morbidly poignant world of lost souls, and you may not realize you’re in a theater until the end credits roll.
– Joel Massie, MoviePulse