Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Children of Men (2006) ****

Proving that a movie doesn’t have to be fun to watch to be brilliant, “Children of Men” is a dark work of genius. The story centers around the terrifying conceit that humanity has lost the ability to reproduce. This is ironic considering that so many of our problems today seem to be caused by excessive reproduction. “Children of Men” hypothesizes that all these problems would be that much worse if we weren’t kept sane by the hope embodied in the next generation. This dystopian, near-future sci-fi movie paints the earth as pretty similar to the world of today, but dominated by the existentialist hopelessness of an entire race of humans who face the likelihood that they are the end of the line.

Clive Owen is Theo, one of the unhopeful masses. He gets kidnapped by terrorists working for his ex, played with revolutionary style by Julianne Moore, and recruited for a shocking mission: to help smuggle the only known pregnant woman in the world out of England and into the hands of some trustworthy doctors. Calloused as he is, Theo takes the job for money, but during the nightmarish journey he rediscovers his humanity.

“Children of Men” gets so many things right. First of all, the actors are universally excellent. I’m not necessarily a big Clive Owen fan, but he really nails this one. Likewise, Julianne Moore is very convincing as an insurgent leader, and Chiwetel Ejiofor is chilling as one of her lieutenants. Michael Caine is wonderful in a small role as Theo’s dad. Another thing the film gets right is the Big Concept. This is science fiction, after all. “Children of Men” does a great job taking this concept, that the entire human race could suddenly become sterile, and envisioning our world under those conditions. The action sequences are also pretty good.

This is not, by any stretch, a date movie, but on a night when you are up for a serious, seriously good movie, “Children of Men” is worth seeing.

4 stars

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