Children of Men concludes what has become a trio of reviews focused on unusual takes on the apocalypse. Starting out with the enjoyable but stumbling Seeking a Friend for the End of the World which was then followed by the completely polarising Melancholia, I happen to finish with the film that I found to be the weakest of the three. Children of Men depicts a world which has gone to hell; women can no longer give birth to children, Britain has turned into a totalitarian state and activists typically use explosives rather than words to make their presence known. Through all this we stumble and whilst a realistic, barely modified future version of London grabs our attention, it cannot distract us from an average film masquerading as an excellent one.
During the first hour of the film I had come to the conclusion that the film’s intriguing world would be the aspect that interested me most and settled down just to try and absorb it, hoping to ignore the acting turned in by some minor role’s which was really beginning to grate. It has an interesting premise which of course was given to it by it’s source material – P. D. James’s The Children of Men, but still it did hold my interest for a considerable length of time and delivers on providing a believable and unnervingly recognisable apocalyptic vision. The last quarter of the film surprisingly won me over as I became increasingly involved with the central characters to the extent which by that point should have been impossible. Perhaps then there is a great film buried here somewhere, certainly feats such as that are indicative of one but a vapid plot, bizarre character actions and underdeveloped characters smother that possibility. Which brings me round to one of my biggest frustrations with the film; I couldn’t care less about the majority of supporting characters, Moore and Caine aside I kept thinking ditch that assistant, stop having this other unimportant figure following them around – just cut the baggage. When it finally did focus on the absolute central characters I felt the film took on a whole new level of intensity, finally compelling me to watch it, unfortunately this occurred far too near the end in order to salvage it in my eyes.
The ending initially appeared to be quite brave and I became excited for a moment thinking my rating of the film was suddenly about to rise several notches, but then it faltered and gave in to a more disappointingly predictable alternative. Which pretty much sums up my feeling toward the whole film; a mix between some really interesting ideas and well executed scenes which regrettably run alongside too many weak and uninvolving ones. Its flaws lower it to being a merely mediocre film, one which at times is suggestive of a far greater end product than that which we ended up with.