Children of Men (15)

The future? Like now, only greyer and with more litter
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The Independent Culture

Children of Men is set in the Britain of 2027, a panic-stricken police state where illegal immigrants are crammed into cages. Based on PD James's novel, and achieving everything which V For Vendetta attempted, and more, the film boasts the most believable and finely detailed cinematic vision of a future world since Blade Runner's, mainly because it appears much the same as the present world, except greyer, with more litter, and with video screens on the side of every bus and building. The action sequences are just as credible. Each visceral set-piece is filmed in long, dizzying takes, and the explosions look and sound much more like the ones we see on the news than the ones we see in the movies.

Clive Owen plays the harried hero who has to dodge these explosions. He's an alcoholic bureaucrat who gave up on activism years ago. But when his ex-wife, Julianne Moore, persuades him to help smuggle a refugee out of the country, with the help of his ageing hippie mentor, Michael Caine, his crusading spirit rekindles. The rushed ending of this startling chase-thriller may leave you with the impression that it hasn't exploited all of its many ideas, but it's an all-too-rare complaint that a film is half an hour too short.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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