Well good lord is all I can say. It is clear from the start that Cuaron is putting us in his own world, a place far removed from anything we may be familiar with or have seen before. Taking a reversed stance from nearly every science fiction film set in the future before, Cuaron reverses the problem plaguing mankind. Birth control isn't an option, there seems to be no shortage of resources, but oh lord the world has certainly turned to @#%$ because there are no babies being born. In one brief scene we hear about the strange phenomenon starting, but there is no real explanation for the world's infertility, and that's fine with me.
Cuaron has made some interesting pictures over the years, bouncing back and forth between north and south of the US border. Children of Men takes him off to England, and a London that looks like it never rebuilt itself after WWII. The refugee camps, called fugees here as one of the numerous references to music, are indecipherable from the military ghettos that the nazis horded Jews in during that war. Nearly all the refugees we see are partially crazy, muttering to themselves and walking around hysterical all the time. It is no doubt because of the traumatizing effect of being captured. Working so hard to make it London, and when rounded up, they are randomly beaten, literally thrown in cages, and no intention of ever actually deporting them happens. The government would rather just put them in a ghetto under lock and key and guard them like prisoners.
Clive Owen's somewhat detached manner makes him channel his inner Bogart. His Theo is every bit the sentimentalist former idealistic freedom fighter Bogart's Rick Blaine was in Casablanca. A man with a few loyal friends, who may say he's doing something for the money, but when back in the fight he quickly remembers what made him such a revolutionary in his younger years. This is brought back slightly when encountering his former lover Julian (Julianne Moore), who parted ways after the death of their child. Cuaron pulls a Hitchcock trick ala Psycho on us 20 minutes into the film, but it isn't even this that makes Theo accept his responsibility. It isn't until he discovers the plans of this organization that he resumes his heroic past, but for a much more noble cause.
The entire film was shot hand held, even the short shots. Much of the film enfolds in long takes, and towards the end, Cuaron and his camera men pull off what can arguably called the most impressive single take I have ever seen. I can't quite describe it, but it goes on and on, and takes us through several parts of the ghetto, and in true guerilla fashion, even some blood spurts onto the camera lense. Whereas many modern films may begin with a attention grabbing take (and this film had a pretty good one at that), this shot is saved for the climax and good lord its amazing. Cuaron has been making tremendous roads as a filmmaker, but nothing he has done before even hinted at the magnitude of this film. He has achieved something completely extraordinary and unique here. Quite possibly the film of the year.