The future of ‘Men’ revealed in new film

By on January 31, 2007

Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron’s latest offering is a film about the possible extinction of humanity set in 2027 Britain. Loosely based on the 1992 novel “The Children of Men” by P.D. James, the film grips its audience with its alarming premise: the entire female race is suffering from infertility, and scientists can only speculate as to what’s behind this unprecedented mystery. It seems that nothing can be done to prevent the imminent extinction of humanity.

In Cuaron’s apocalyptic future, most of the major countries of the world have collapsed due to nuclear wars and terrorism that have ravaged the planet for the past two decades, causing most of the world to become uninhabitable. Struggling to stay afloat amongst the chaos, Great Britain is now a fascist police state with echoes of Orwell’s English government from “1984,” and even the one seen in last year’s “V for Vendetta” to a degree (though the latter is purely coincidental).

The primary agenda of the country is to keep out the hoards of refugees from the unstable nations of the world, using vicious means to do so if necessary. The audience is invited to draw parallels to certain environmental and political issues, but the film manages to avoid being weighed down by too much overt commentary. Whether you find the future presented in “Children of Men” to be relevant to today’s political climate or not, like all great Science Fiction, it provides a captivating and provocative backdrop to the story.

The protagonist in this film is a former political activist named Theo Faron (Clive Owen), who is a hardened and disillusioned alcoholic. The events of the film are set in motion when Theo becomes unwillingly entangled with a terrorist group called “The Fishes,” who are fighting against Britain’s inhumane treatment of immigrants (such as brutal internment camps). The group is led by Theo’s ex-wife (Julianne Moore), who is able to buy his cooperation in obtaining travel permits for a West-African refugee. When the nature of this request is revealed midway through the film, the story becomes increasingly complex and fascinating.

Michael Caine delivers a memorable performance full of humor and warmth as a friend of Theo’s, the marijuana-dealing Jasper. The scenes in which Caine and Owen share the screen are among the most enjoyable moments in the film.

Also noteworthy is the climactic gunfight at the end of the film. For action movie fanatics, this scene alone may be worth the price of admission.

My primary criticism of the movie lies within its ending, which doesn’t quite feel like one. One might find themselves wondering about how a certain development might affect the world as it was at the end of “Children of Men.” Is the human race still doomed? To be fair, perhaps this is precisely what Cuaron wants us to ask.


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