The year is 2027, and mankind is facing extinction. People are no longer able to procreate and the biggest celebrity in the world, the world's youngest human, an 18 year old is murdered. But that is just one of the many sides to this complicated film. The film is loosely based on the book by P.D. James, in fact, so loosely that only a few things even remain the same...including the plot. The one thing I found most interesting was that the reason for the sterility in mankind is in no way explained. There are several hints to pollution being a possible cause...but nothing outright.
Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is at the center of a maelstrom that is about to erupt between government forces and a loosely organized group of rebels. He is recruited by an ex-lover, Julian (Julianne Moore), with whom he split 20 years ago after the death of their child. Theo is a broken-down, chain smoking, heavy drinking out of luck ex government agent, but his perspective on life changes when he meets Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), a miraculously pregnant young refugee/illegal immigrant. Julian's goal is to hide Kee until she can be spirited out of England to a place of safety run by a mysterious group called "The Human Project." Others have different ideas, viewing Kee's baby as a crucial tool for establishing power for the rebels or maintaining the government. Julian's idealism has no place in their worldview. Ultimately, the responsibility to protect Kee falls to Theo, and he has a dangerous adversary in Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofore), the rebel leader, that can not really be trusted. His lone allies are a midwife, Miriam (Pam Ferris), and an aging hippie (Michael Caine). Michael Caine, by the way, has the most fun of the movie, providing some much needed comic relief in parts, and some poignancy in showing his love for his brain-dead wife.
Children of Men is a cautionary tale with many cautions. Points are made about assisted suicide and the dangers of immigration control, but these are just side notes to the main story. In this film it is well depicted that it is hard to decide who is in the right, the rebels or the government . They may be fighting a totalitarian regime, but they are in no way depicted as being "the good guys." Their goal seems to be less freedom for the masses than power for themselves.