Last seen directing the big-screen adaptation of J. K. Rowling’s “Prisoner of Azkaban”, Mexican Alfonso Cuaron now turns his attention to P. D. James’ dystopian sci-fi thriller (a marked change of direction from her usual crime fiction) “Children of Men”.

The year is 2027 and, ravaged by terrorism, pollution and infertility, humanity is on the brink of extinction. Clive Owen plays Theodore Faron, an ex-political activist who now spends his days chinning whisky, smoking dope and praying for the end of the world. But when he is kidnapped by a terrorist group led by his ex-wife Julian (Moore), he meets Kee (Ashitey), a young woman who could be the key to mankind’s survival.

“Children of Men” strives to be a cerebral political thriller that addresses key issues such as immigration, terrorism, and pollution, but functions best as an explosive chase movie.

There in the thick of it all is Owen (he appears in every scene of the film), who gives a career-best performance as the reluctant hero forced to awaken from his apathetic slumber when he realises that man’s future lies squarely on his shoulders.

Michael Caine also puts in a lively supporting turn as Theo’s drug-dealing hippy mate Jasper, injecting the film with some much need humour in the quieter moments.

Julianne Moore, however, is wasted as Julian, and her under-developed relationship with Theo fails to convince - much like some of the lazy plot machinations.

Most importantly, we are never given a satisfactory reason for man’s sudden infertility, and it seems bizarre that illegal immigrants would flock to Britain in such great numbers despite its fascistic regime.

Other than an inadequate seven-minute featurette entitled “Men Under Attack” that briefly looks at how Cuaron engineered his spectacular battle scenes, the extras package is non-existent. Fans will have to wait until later in the year for the inevitable “Special Edition” release for anything more.

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Cuaron engineers some stunningly choreographed set-pieces – the final extended shoot-out in a rundown refugee city is comparable with the best moments from Saving Private Ryan – shot on handheld cameras in continuous takes.

Rating: 15
Staring: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunman, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Pam Ferris
Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Extras: 'Men Under Attack' featurette

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