Children of Men (2006)


The future that is presented in Alfonso Cuaron’s brilliant Children of Men is one of the bleakest you will find in any science fiction film. Not only has civilization gone to ruins, but 18 years have passed since the last baby was born. The film takes place in England, where hundreds of immigrants are being deported and Theo (Clive Owen) is thrown into a plot that involves what may be humanity’s last hope.

Theo, played by Clive Owen, is worth noting because he is not an action hero, even though the film has a good bit of action in it. If this film had been made in Hollywood, Theo would have been a John McClane-like tough guy. Here, Owen projects a vulnerability that we can relate to and the filmmakers do an excellent job of emphasizing his flaws. There is even one scene where Theo wears flip-flops for the entire sequence. Have we ever seen the hero of a movie like this in flip-flops? That subtle detail is just one example of the brilliance of Children of Men. The characters are flawed and some have few redeeming factors other than the fact that they are as human as we are. We cheer for them because they are like us and in their situation, we would have done the same thing.

Another aspect that the film gets right is its visual style. The movie is shot in long takes, making the events unfold in real time. In effect, the film always appears realistic, even in the incredible action sequences. Likewise, the sets of the film are not especially inventive, colorful, or eye-catching. Instead, the film strikes the viewer by capturing locations that are ordinary and recognizable.


Children of Men presents many differing attitudes towards immigration, but the film never quite tells us what its message is. Even though this movie could be discussed at length in sociological and political terms, it avoids the trap of becoming dull and inaccessible by focusing on the human element of the story. Its true purpose is not to support a certain stance on a social or political issue, but rather to depict a story of men and women clinging to hope in a grim and hopeless world.

Detailed and painstakingly crafted, Children of Men is a masterpiece in virtually every area of filmmaking. The performances are believable, the camerawork is fantastic, and Cuaron directs with the vision and wisdom of a master filmmaker. This is a great film, not only because it shows us a world that we can believe, but because it refuses to be flashy and fantastical. It is a testament to the power of quality filmmaking that the movie is entertaining and immersive regardless.


43 responses to “Children of Men (2006)

  1. Great, great film. I can still vividly remember seeing this in the cinema, need to revisit it. The sense of anxiety about immigration and xenophobia that fills the film feels even more relevant than it did when it was released.

  2. Excellent stuff once again Garrett. This is an absolutely superb film and one of my personal favourites. Such a grim and exciting movie. That lenghty tracking shot towards the end is sublime and very inpressive filmmaking. Nice one buddy.

      • You should definitely check this out Chris! Great review Garrett, it’s a brilliant film w/ awesome performances. I think Owen is more versatile than people think. I love his vulnerability in his performance here, perhaps one of his best roles to date. I also love Michael Caine in one of the most memorable supporting roles.

        • I’m definitely in agreement with you Ruth. Great acting all around and how about Michael Caine’s hair/wig? The first time I saw this, it took me a minute to recognize him. πŸ™‚

  3. This is actually one of my favorite sci fi films of all time. It is actually in my top 10 best movies ever. Absolutely love and adore this film.

  4. Totally agree! One of the best films of the last ten years. And Cuaron may have the most mind-blowing technique of any filmmaker today. Those long takes are already the stuff of legend, and rightfully so. They’ve been talking about GRAVITY for years, and the teaser trailer looks incredible! Can’t wait to finally see it in a few months.

    • Yeah, those long takes are absolutely incredible. Even better, he doesn’t use long takes just for the sake of using long takes, which I think some filmmakers seem to do. And Gravity does look amazing! I’m really excited about that one too.

    • Thanks. For a sci-fi film, it is a strangely believable film and that just contributes to its greatness. And yeah, the flip-flops are great too. πŸ™‚

  5. I first saw this film last summer during the olympics, and what really stuck out at me is that Theo managed to get a sweatshirt from the 2012 London Olympics when the film was made in ’06! I thought that was the coolest thing!
    All around great film. I’ve been meaning to rewatch for the longest time!

    • Are you serious!? Wow, I totally missed that. I guess that just goes to show all of the little details that can be found all throughout the movie.

  6. That car scene…oh my gosh. Amazing. You’ve reminded me how good this movie is. I’m going to add it to my blu ray collection this week. Thanks for the reminder! Great review too. Totally didn’t even think how incongruous the flip flops are on our hero!

  7. Pingback: Movie Report Card: June 2013 | Cinema Train·

  8. Great review Garrett, this makes me even more excited about his upcoming (but seemingly, yet challengingly limited) Gravity. I can’t wait to see what is made out of that crazy scenario. What do you think it’ll be like??

    • Thanks! I’m so excited for Gravity too, and I’m not too sure what to anticipate either, but that may be because I try to avoid knowing much about most new releases before I see them. I just hope that Cuaron surprises me in some way, because there’ve been an abnormally small amount of films this year that have pleasantly surprised me so far.

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