Monday, September 25, 2006

Children of Men review

About 30 minutes into Children of Men, there comes a moment when you realise that, unless you like cold-blooded murder in your films, this isn't going to be a particularly easy one to watch.

Filmed mostly with hand-held 'documentary-style' camerawork, this is a dark, raw, film set about 20 years in the future, at a time when the human race has become infertile, the youngest person on the planet is 18 years old. The majority of the world's countries have collapsed into anarchy, and Britain is the only place that has managed to hold itself together and keep a civilised society - although one which is effectively a police state, with closed borders and a paranoid immigration policy. Clive Owen plays the hero, a world-weary ex-activist who somehow finds himself in the position of having to protect the most important person in the world - a pregnant girl.

The problem with the film is that it doesn't know what it wants to be, or what it wants to say. Part semi-futuristic sci-fi, part-political commentrary, part-action thriller. Undoubtedly, it is as third type that it succeeds most. After a slow start the action and excitement is pretty non-stop, and anybody who's played the latter levels of Half-Life 2 will feel right at home in the last 40 minutes. In such all-out thrillers you tend to ignore any silly plot holes as your belief is already suspended, however that doesn't happen in this film as the director is constantly cutting back, as if he is trying to say that this is something that could really happen.

On that note it fails. While the futuristic world is intriguing it is not fleshed out enough to make it truly believable (mostly because of all the action sequences), and so when the action stops for a bit and you catch your breath, you're left a bit puzzled as to why this is all going on.

Djanira didn't like it at all, partially for the above reasons, but also becuase of the violence. Although actual moments of real goriness are few and far between, it is a violent and rather cold-blooded film, and I was surprised to see it only got a 15.

By contrast I quite enjoyed it, but left a little disappointed that more wasn't made out of the world and the scenario - it would have been a gamble to do so, as many of the action sequences would have to have been dropped, and perhaps that would have made the film a little too slow. But it might just have paid off.
Incidentaly, it is an adaptation of a P.D. James book, so it will be interested in reading the book to see if it succeeds where the film stumbles. In conclusion, I would say that it is definately an interesting film that is worth going to watch, but perhaps a missed opportunity.

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