Based on an acclaimed novel by P.D. James, this is a film adaptation about a near future dystopia that posits a scenario that is actually (and this is what's scary) rather plausible.
It is 2027 and the world is plagued by infertility. It's been 18 years since the last child was born, and, as a result, the world has crumbled into a chaotic mess. England has managed to be the last remaining society that hasn't totally collapsed, but even it is ravaged by a fascist government and the activites of violent protestors and resistance groups. On top of that, the government is severely cracking down on immigration, only further adding to the mayhem and collapse of society. All of this madness really gets otu of hand when a former protestor turned civil servant, is tasked by his ex (the leader of the resistance) to escort a young woman to safety out of the country. The kicker: not only is she an immigrant, but miraculously enough, she's pregnant.
Plot-wise, that's pretty much it. This is some very high concept stuff, but the film is deceptively simple with it all. Not a whole lot really happens, yet we really feel like we know this world, thanks to the brilliant mise-en-scene. Most of the plot is given in spnippets, and not always through dialogue. I thought this was an excellent way to get the audience involved in the film, and indeed, this is a very engaging and absorbing piece of work. This film is one of the greatest directed and shot films I've seen in quite a while. This is a powerful film, but it's even more effective because the world of the film is grounded in reality, influenced by contemporary events and society, and unlike similar films, doesn't get too futuristic or too low tech (a la Mad Max).
The casting is great, and I think that I'm officially a Clive Owen fan. I've liked the guy for a few years now, but I think he's really become a guy whose films I'm gonna start following more closely now. Probably the most fun part in this film is the one played by Michael Caine- an aging hippie and former political cartoonist. It's a new sort of role for him, and he does a great job. Julianne Moore is one of my favorites, and she too also does a really good job. Hell, basically there's not really a bad performance to be found.
The real star of things, besides the world building, is the cinematogrpahy. There are a few really superb long takes throughout (particularly, but not exclusively) during action scenes, and they actually benefit the film by serving the story and not sticking out as being flashy just for the sake of it. I'm in awe of how they got these scenes choreographed and executed. Also, there's some killer needle drops as well, and those too feel like they have a purpose. This is a really intense film at times, and it fills me with dread, but this is a film I'm in awe of, and really think is worth thinking about and discussing.
This is an action movie, yes, to a degree, but not in a real conventional sense. It's done with care, intelligence, style, and a great sense of skill. I can't belive it too me this long to finally see it, but I'm so glad I finally did. This is some truly excellent stuff, and there's some wonderful stuff going on. I can definitely see this one becoming something quite important and hailed as one of the greats.