Susan Granger reviews “Children of Men”

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A whopper of a heart-kicker, “Children of Men” is a full-throttle futuristic thriller with a flat-out fabulous performance by Clive Owen as a British civil servant in a bleak, despairing, depressing world that’s been thrown into chaos and anarchy.

It’s an Orwellian 2027 – and female infertility plagues the globe. No babies have been born, anywhere, for 18 years.

Former political activist-turned-bureaucrat, Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is reluctantly drawn in to a resistance movement when he’s kidnapped by a rogue terrorist group called the Fish that’s headed by his militant ex (Julianne Moore) who convinces him to obtain transit papers for a young refugee, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), who must flee the country.

When plans go awry in London, Theo drives the girl to the secret country hideaway of his eccentric, drug-addled friend Jasper (Michael Caine), a former political cartoonist – but their pursuers are close behind. It’s all about the desperate chase to save humanity – because, inexplicably, Kee is pregnant!

Based on a 1993 novel by British mystery writer P.D. James and adapted by writer/director Alfonso Cuaron with Timothy J. Sexton, it’s rife with thought-provoking social and political themes, revolving around immigration and terrorism – and far more believable than “28 Days” or “V for Vendetta.” Also credit photographer Emmanuel Lubezski and production designers Jim Clay and Geoffrey Kirkland – who create indelible images of wailing prisoners held in Guantanamo-like cages in an oppressive, rubble-littered landscape. And Cuaron’s seamless editing is truly remarkable.

But it’s also rather confusing, filled with heavy-handed religious allusions and allegorical symbolism – and too little is explained about Theo and Kee’s ultimate goal, known only as The Human Project. Nevertheless, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Children of Men” is a gritty, gripping 8. It’s apocalyptic sci-fi.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.