Children of Men, set in the year 2027, portrays a future in which war and panic have come to dominate human consciousness as a result of the discovery that women have lost the ability to conceive offspring. With such a compelling premise, centered on a profound philosophical and scientific conundrum, one would hope for something akin to greatness in the film’s execution. However, while the movie does have its merits, Children of Men falls short of delivering on its lofty potential.
The story begins in futuristic Britain. Martial law is in effect to keep out would-be immigrants from other regions of the globe where chaos has prevailed. With the only world government still in tact, the nation struggles to maintain order within its boundaries where riots and acts of terrorism have become daily occurrences. A particularly strong group of insurgents has captured the attention of the country’s media with its violent acts of defiance aimed at bringing an end to Britain’s harsh regime, and eventually, restoring peace to the planet. While their numbers are few, the rebels have a secret weapon: under their protection is a pregnant immigrant by the name of Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), perhaps the only human female on the planet to have conceived in 18 years. It is the hope of the grassroots coalition that by getting Kee to the “Human Project” (assumed to be an organization focused on restoring humanity’s ability to procreate) the scientists there might be able to shed some light on the mysterious circumstances that have brought about mankind’s reproductive crisis.
Kee’s voyage, however, cannot begin without the appropriate transit papers which can only be acquired by those with ties to government officials. To surmount this obstacle Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore), the leader of the rebel faction, enlists the assistance of her ex-husband, a former activist by the name of Theo Farron (Clive Owen), who happens to have the right connections. The only papers he is able to obtain, however, are joint transit papers which require Theo to escort Kee to her destination. The remainder of the film is dedicated to their perilous quest for the ship “Tomorrow” which will carry Kee to the Human Project.
Children of Men is a gritty, action-packed, sci-fi thriller highlighted with visually stunning images of a futuristic Britain where technological advancements clash with the ravages of war. The film’s best attributes are its cinematography, its gripping pace, and a stellar performance turned in by Claire-Hope Ashitey. However, while the movie is entertaining, its omissions and shortcomings are glaringly obvious. The most critical oversight of the film is the fact that the viewer never receives an answer to the question of how the human race has arrived at the predicament that the story is centered around. The mysterious factors that have facilitated Kee’s conception, while every other woman on the planet has remained barren, are also never revealed. Without these vital pieces of information the story loses its philosophical and scientific content. What is left is simply a formulaic action film that takes place under unusual circumstances. The most intriguing part of the film’s premise never comes into play.
Another huge flaw comes at the end when the title of the film is projected boldly across the screen as if the movie were a thought-provoking masterpiece with profound implications for humanity. That move on the part of the director is more likely to elicit laughter from the audience than the awe that he likely intended. It is equivalent to filling a frame with the word “fin” at the end of a Van Damme movie. It’s ludicrous.
Recommendation: If you’re looking for an action movie filled with suspense and violence, Children of Men is an excellent choice. If you’re hoping for something cerebral and thought-provoking, this is not that film.
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Kee: Claire-Hope Ashitey
Theo Farron: Clive Owen
Julian Taylor: Julianne Moore
Jasper Palmer: Michael Caine
We will not sell or distribute your e-mail address to anyone else.
Written by Emily Condit