Children of Men review by The Grim Ringler

It’s a swell thought but the idea that a movie could change the world is a far fetched one. Even the best and most artistic of films is rarely ever seen as anything but simply that – a film. We just don’t tend to take films too seriously. The shame of it is that there are films that come out from time to time that are more than just mere entertainment. These films can give us hope for a better world, or may serve as a warning against what the world might become if we don’t change things before it’s too late. Children of Men serves as a bit of both, and is a rare film that gives hope while it tells a sobering tale of a world gone mad. A world that isn’t too dissimilar to our own.

The year is 2029 and it has been eighteen years since the last child was born. Since the plague of infertility that has fallen like a curse on humanity, the world has taken a turn for the worse. Terrorism has run rampant and the remaining world powers become iron-fisted regimes that treat all foreigners as if they are criminals and detain them as such. In this world of the future Britain is the last shining beacon of the civilized world. This world too is crumbling under the hopelessness of a world without children. Theo is one of the faceless many that works at a business as a computer programmer. He, like most of the society, has lost hope in tomorrow and faith in the future. When the youngest person in the world, an eighteen year old man who had found fame in being the last to be born, is killed by autograph seekers, the last glimmer of hope the citizens of England had held on to was lost, and almost every citizen is sent into a deep depression. Theo, long past caring and seeking solace in alcohol, is unaffected, the reality of the world only coming to bear on him when some rebels kidnap him and take him to their commander. The rebels oppose a government regime that quarantines all foreigners and ships them to interment camps. This is a government that believes everyone not native is a potential terrorist. Theo is taken to the leader of the rebels and it turns out it is his ex-wife, someone he had had a child with but when they lost their child, they lost their bond and became strangers. She wants Theo to obtain papers for her that will allow someone to leave the country. Theo feigns disinterest but it's the promise of money that draws him and the further promise of getting back in the good graces of his ex that really holds his attention. What Theo doesn't know though is that in order to obtain the papers, he'll have to accompany whomever it is that is leaving the country, something that will become very dangerous when he learns who the person who will use the papers. This precious cargo is a woman, but not just any woman, this woman is the first to become pregnant since the world took its first steps toward the end, and she may be able to shed some light on how Man might pull itself from the brink of doom. She needs to find safe passage to reach a scientific organization that is working on finding an answer as to why things have gone as they have. On the way to that group though there are rebels, an army, and any number of obstacles that a woman bearing a child would never make it through without the help of someone else. So it becomes the duty of Theo to carry out the wishes of his ex-wife, protecting the future of a world he doesn't care for any longer.

Of all the films I have seen in 2006 (or that were from that year, to put it more accurately), none touched me as deeply as this film. This is a story that resonates with truth and with the grim whispers of what may come. I suppose it's fair to call t his a science fiction film but it's sci-fi in the truest sense in that it's about a world where Man's own lack of faith and hope has lead to the brink of destruction. It's not the lack of babies that dooms us but the lack of hope that there may be babies again. This is a world where death is the norm and where genocide has become the currency. There is a scene in the film (one of many that will leave the viewer breathless) in which Theo and the pregnant woman exit a building that is the center of a massive gunfight. As they are exiting and people begin to see her, all fighting stops, and for those few moments, the war is over and all that are present sense that they are the witnesses of something very, very special. That moment is lost in an instant though and the war resumes but, for a moment, everyone had stopped.

The direction here is astounding, as is the sound design. The battle scenes are the most intense i have seen since Saving Private Ryan and the moments of action are only eclipsed by the quiet moments of awe that follow them. Clive Owen is the star but he is surrounded by a very capable cast and all share the spotlight evenly with none of them clamoring for more attention than the story allows.

I can't recommend this film enough. It's a truly superior film and it's a shame that it won't be better recognized as such during Oscar season. I think it's fair to say though that whether you like it or not, this is a film that will stick with you long after you have left it behind. The haunting future shown here is as much a warning as it is a reflection of where we are today. And whether you believe what it has to say or not, the message of hope, and of faith in the face of despair is one that we can all take something from.

... c ...

9 out of 10 Jackasses
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