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Sat, Nov 18, 2017 04:12 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Tuning In


by DNA Smith


ARH
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01/31/2007 - "Children of Men" • Running time: 109 minutes • MPAA rating: R

It is the year 2027. After a series of global pandemics, the world's population is left infertile. No child has been born since 2009. Global terrorism is on the rise.

England, like the rest of the world, is in the grip of panic. It is a nation under martial law, with security cameras everywhere. Immigrants, nicknamed "Foogies," are rounded up and placed in cramped outdoor cages while they await deportation (allowing director Alfonso Cuaron an opportunity to make a visual commentary on the current Abu Ghraib attrocities). And if this world is too much to bear, a popular over-the-counter suicide drug, "Quietus" (motto: "You decide when"), is available.

Enter Theo (Clive Owen), an alcoholic civil-servant. On the day of the death of the world's youngest human (aged 18), Theo takes the day off. Big mistake. As he goes for a cup of coffee, he is abducted by an underground revolutionary group, the local cell of which is run by his ex-wife (Julianne Moore). They split up after the death of their infant son some 18 years previous.

She persuades Theo to use a family connection to get transit papers for a young woman who needs to leave the country. The young woman, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), is pregnant. The revolutionaries don't trust the government to help Kee, so they want to smuggle her out of the country where their group will supposedly do right by her and her baby.

What it is, we aren't told. Why the world's women are all infertile is never really explained (I'm only assuming it had to do with the pandemics). And frankly, one pregnant woman isn't really going to solve the population problem — no matter how enthusiastic she may be.

That is really the problem with "Children of Men." Too many questions and no answers. And as a commentary on how bad things could get if we (meaning the U.S. and UK) continue with our Homeland Security paranoia, Cuaron doesn't really offer anything of substance.

Still, the performances are strong, even if the script isn't. And as a mindless chase movie, "Children of Men" does succeed. Make it a rental.

GRADE: C+

(c) 2007 King Features Synd., Inc.

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