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Children of Men an Amazing Work of Cinema

Published December 25, 2006 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Universal Pictures.
Children of Men Poster Children of Men
Children of Men is an amazing work of cinema. The story may be familiar sci-fi but the filmmaking itself is so fascinating, I just wanted to watch more and more of this unfold.

Movie Review: Children of Men

20 years in the future, women can no longer conceive so the human race is dying. Terrorism plagues Britain, the last bastion of civilization, while Theo (Clive Owen) sleepwalks through his remaining days. When an old girlfriend gets him involved in an illegal immigration, he discovers a miracle pregnancy. Now he must protect Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) from opposing forces to preserve hope for our survival.

Okay, apocalypse is nothing new, and infertility has been dealt with in everything from Waterworld to Hell Comes to Frogtown. The immigration issue has obvious political undertones today and all of that is a cool metaphor, but that’s not what makes Children of Men so enthralling.

Children of Men is so exciting because its action scenes unfold in single takes. Theo and Kee escape from various captors without ever cutting to a point of view or reaction shot. The camera just hangs with them, in pretty impossible filming conditions, and it’s real panic because you just don’t know what else can happen with the limitations of such photography.

An attack on a car looks like Mad Max with no cuts. The car drives with terrorists bombarding it, hanging on or driving alongside, while the camera swivels around each passenger. You can’t help thinking, “Where on earth did they put the camera in that little car?” but it doesn’t distract you from seeing all the chaos they fit into several minutes of running film.

This is real movie magic. We may not think about all the tricks while we’re enjoying a movie, but we know they can create anything in CGI, make anything happen with tricky editing and the like. To actually take that out of an equation may not be obvious to everyone, but it registers.

When the film is in exposition mode, it actually makes one wish they would still keep out the cutaways. Seeing a reaction or a point of view is not as important as maintaining this cinematic vision. It is also in these exposition scenes that the film feels more standard. Yeah, it’s a war zone and we have to get the miracle to safety. Blah, blah, blah.

Scenes of the atrocities in the future are points well taken about what’s already happened in our history or present. Classy satirical digs at prescription drugs are a more realistic take on the Robocop media future. But it’s really the one-take action that keeps Children of Men going.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Universal Pictures.

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