Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 classic opens with people standing in a cafe watching a live broadcast about the recent death of Diego Ricardo who was the youngest person on earth. That’s right, the year is 2027 and there have not been any babies conceived in the past 18 years and the cause for infertility is unclear and baffling. The world painted in this movie is so bleak and hopeless; the only nation that seems to have a relatively stable government is Great Britain as advertised by the continuous propaganda videos playing in the trains. We have our main character Theo played by Clive Owen who was in that cafe when the news about young Diego was being televised. As soon as he walks out after getting coffee he witnesses a bombing and within the first 5 minutes you’re already immersed in this world that Cuaron has created. Theo doesn’t seem to be as affected as other people by the death of Diego who was a living reminder of what humanity has lost. Theo even uses the death of Diego as an excuse to take the rest of the day off from his government work. He goes to visit his good friend Jasper played by Sir Michael Caine, and they have interesting thoughts on the death of Diego. Theo says Diego was just a wanker and in the funniest line in the movie, Jasper corrects Theo by saying “but he was the youngest wanker on earth. Pull my finger, come on, quick.” and immediately you realize that these are normal people living in an abnormal world.
Early on in the movie Theo is kidnapped by “The Human Project” who are considered terrorists, but are fighting for the outrageous immigration laws that exist in Britain. He is brought into this room covered with newspapers and heavily lit; the leader of “The Human Project” is Julianne who is coincidentally played by Julianne Moore and just happens to be Theo’s ex-wife. She needs his help getting paper works for one special immigrant that could be the key to saving humanity; and he would need to visit his cousin for those papers. The relationship between Theo and Julianne seems extinct at first glance since they had not seen each other in twenty years and you learn that they had a baby together who was killed by the flu epidemic. However, the few scenes that they are in together, you can see that they have great chemistry and are believable as having once been a couple. Another notable member of “The Human Project” is Luke played by Chiewetel Ejiofor who has become one of my favorite actors working today. There is a car ambush scene where our characters are transporting this immigrant (Kee) in a van, and all hell breaks loose and that scene is shot so masterfully that you are convinced that you are in that van witnessing everything with the characters. After that scene, it is up to Theo to single-handedly take Kee to safety in the midst of all the terror and war occurring all around them.
Clive Owen is tremendous in this film and so watchable on screen as he evokes so many emotions out of the audience. New comer Clare-Hope Ashitey who plays Kee in the film is great as this lovable, innocent character who is key to restoring faith in humanity. Alfonso Cuaron has made some of my favorite movies over the years, but this is definitely his masterpiece and is also one of the most surreal movies ever made. (10/10)