The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
It is above all the look of "Children of Men" that stirs apprehension in the heart. Is this what we are all headed for? The film is set in 2027, when assorted natural disasters, wars and terrorist acts have rendered most of the world ungovernable, uninhabitable or anarchic. Britain stands as an island of relative order, held in line by a fearsome police state. It has been 18 years since Earth has seen the birth of a human child.
Watching "Children of Men," which creates a London in ruins, I realized after a point that the sets and art design were so well done that I took it as a real place. Often I fear it will all come to this, that the rule of law and the rights of men will be destroyed by sectarian mischief and nationalistic recklessness. Are we living in the last good times?
There is much to be said about the story of "Children of Men," directed by Alfonso Cuaron and based on a lesser-known novel by P.D. James, who usually writes about a detective. But the story, like the stories of "Metropolis," "Nosferatu" or "Escape from New York," is secondary to the visual world we are given to regard. Guerrilla fighters occupy abandoned warehouses. The homeless live in hovels. Immigrants are rounded up and penned in cages. The utilities cannot be depended upon. There are, most disturbing of all, no children. Only dogs and cats remain to be cared for and cherished.
As the film opens, the TV news reports that the world's youngest person has been stabbed to death in Buenos Aires, because he declined to give an autograph. Theo Faron (Clive Owen), the film's hero, watches the news in a cafe and then leaves with his paper cup in his hand. Seconds later, a bomb destroys the cafe. This is essential: Faron is terrified. He crouches and fear freezes his face. This will not be like action pictures where the hero never seems to fear death.