“A baby is God’s opinion life should go on,” Carl Sandburg said. So, in a world where babies have stopped being born and the death of the youngest person on earth is an international tragedy, there seems to be no point in just about anything. It appears that all of humanity is only decades from extinction. With no future, any sense of order and structure is gone. Any sense of hope or purpose has disappeared. All that exists is increasingly more violent and frantic chaos and increasingly more violent and frantic efforts to contain it.
The world is engulfed with anarchy, and only England is left to uphold what passes for civilization, a nihilist bureaucracy supported by a brutal armed force. Its one object is to hold on to what little is left by keeping out the avalanche of people fleeing the chaos of their own countries. The huddled masses yearning to breathe free are shipped off to prison camps and deported. Or just shot, because, why not? Justice, kindness, honor, and loyalty no longer mean anything. The only values left are expediency and any possible shred of a sense of control.
Theo (Clive Owen) is personally and professionally burned out. The one connection he has to peace, affection, and laughter is to his old friend Jasper (Michael Caine), a cynical, pot-smoking aging hippie. He lives away from the rest of the world and cares tenderly for his wife, who is completely unresponsive as a result of severe physical or emotional trauma.
Theo is captured by rebel forces led by his ex-wife (Julianne Moore), who wants him to obtain papers from his influential relative to permit the transport of a young woman who is pregnant. Protecting her from the authorities and the ravenous curiosity of the world gives Theo something to care about.
This is a heart-thumping thriller with two of the most exciting chase scenes since The Matrix Reloaded. But it is also a thoughtful, provocative, and complex film, each shot packed with details, each scene packed with ideas. Theo’s highly placed cousin collects the world’s great masterpieces, protecting them — for what? Theo’s escort of the young pregnant woman recalls the nativity, as he tries to find a safe place for her to give birth to the baby who will carry all of the hope of the world, protecting her from brutal soldiers. Though it takes place in 2027, the setting does not look too far from our own surroundings — this is not one of those futuristic stories where people wear silvery mylar, have flying cars, or zap themselves from one place to another. But there are understated references to other places and events that demonstrate the richness of the film’s underlying conceptual base. The performances, especially Owen and Caine are so deeply grounded and heartfelt that they draw us deeply into the story. Instead of just another chases and explosions movie, this is a film that is adrenaline for the mind and spirit.
Parents should know that this movie is disturbing and extremely violent with graphic images and many characters injured and killed. There is non-sexual nudity, extremely strong language, drinking, smoking, and drug use.
Families who see this movie should discuss why the absence of children led to such violence and anarchy. What will happen next? They may want to read the book, by P.D. James or learn more about the possible causes of declining fertility rates worldwide.
Families who enjoy this film will also appreciate other dystopic visions of the future, including 28 Days Later, Gattaca, Blade Runner, Solyent Green, and a made-for-television movie called The Last Child.