In Alfonso Cuarón's dank, hallucinated, shockingly immediate version of P.D. James's novel, humanity is facing its own extinction -- not through nuclear proliferation or global warming, but through the end of fertility. Like James's book, the movie opens with the violent death of the world's youngest person (18-year-old "Baby Diego," stabbed by an irate fan in Buenos Aires) and imagines what might happen if the human race were granted a miraculous second chance. The year is 2027, but the mood is late 1940. "The world has collapsed," a BBC newsreader explains. "Only Britain soldiers on" -- barely. The U.K. is a mecca for illegal immigrants, as well as a bastion of neo-fascist homeland security. London's smog-shrouded smear of garbage, graffiti, and motorcycle rickshaws is the shabbiest of havens. Armed cops are ubiquitous, and refugees are locked up in curbside cages. Clive Owen plays a wry and rumpled joker whose warmth is such that everyone trusts him, including a mysterious young woman (Clare-Hope Ashitey) who needs to be smuggled through the countryside. It's a measure of Cuarón's directorial chops that Children of Men functions equally well as fantasy and thriller as it attempts to fuse contemporary life with pulp mythology.
Alfonso CuaronClive Owen, Julianne Moore, Charlie Hunnam, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Claire-Hope AshiteyP.D. James, David Arata, Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. SextonMarc Abraham, Eric Newman, Hilary Shor, Iain SmithUniversal Pictures