Clive Owen’s Best Movie is Children of Men, According To Us

For Clive Owen's best cinematic achievement, we choose Children of Men.

By Robert Scucci | Updated

clive owen

When tasked with picking Clive Owen’s best role out of his extensive filmography, we decided that it’s the best decision to lean into his portrayal of Thelonius “Theo” Faron in 2006’s Children of Men. Though Rotten Tomatoes‘ Tomatometer ranks 1998’s Croupier at an intimidating 95 percent, which is three points higher than Children of Men, the latter ultimately has a higher audience score of 85 percent over the former’s 79 percent. And we can’t say we disagree with this assessment.

Though Croupier is a compelling neo-noir crime drama in its own right, it is the scope of Clive Owen’s Children of Men that is worthy of a deeper appreciation. In other words, Croupier is a personal odyssey about a struggling writer trying to make ends meet through questionable means, while Children of Men has more global implications, which in our minds makes for more compelling storytelling. Simply put, both films are excellent pieces of art, but can you blame us for rooting for the protagonist who wants to save the entire world in favor of robbing a casino?

Children of Men is one of those dystopian action thriller films set in the not-so-distant future, and we find the world plagued with a population crisis after two decades of human infertility. Clive Owen’s Theo Faron is caught in the middle of the crisis when he meets a young refugee named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), who later reveals that she is pregnant. This kind of storyline is inherently compelling because the entirety of humanity is at stake, which was made clear at the beginning of the film when the news broke that the world’s youngest person has been killed at the age of 18.

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Clive Owen and Clare-Hope Ashitey in Children of Men (2006)

Upon this revelation, Clive Owen’s Theo finds himself racing the clock to locate a secret group called the Human Project. The Human Project is a scientific group that has dedicated itself to curing humanity’s infertility crisis, and he believes that the young pregnant refugee is the key to saving humanity. From this point forward, we see Theo and Kee rush to board the Human Project’s ship, the Tomorrow with every conceivable odd stacked against their efforts.

We’ve seen a number of post-apocalyptic films that follow this very formula, and honestly, we can’t get enough of it. One of the more notable recent versions would have to be HBO’s The Last of Us, which involves Pedro Pascal‘s Joel stopping at nothing to transport Bella Ramsey’s Ellie to safety because of her immunity to the Cordyceps infection that has decimated the human population. It can be said that Clive Owen’s portrayal of Theo is quite similar to that of Joel in the sense that they are both world-weary protagonists making one last-ditch effort to do right, and potentially sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

So not only are we seeing Clive Owen expertly play the part of a man with nothing to lose in a world full of corruption while humanity is on the brink of extinction, we’re given a spark of hope throughout the film that ultimately has an excellent payoff.

Overarching plot aside, the cinematography in Children of Men boasts a number of prolonged single-shot sequences that are absolutely gripping. If you found yourself picking your jaw up off the floor after Rustin Cohle’s legendary six-minute tracking shot in the first season of True Detective, you’ll be pleased to know that Clive Owen can be seen in scenes that have a similar scope of complexity and suspense in Children of Men. The storytelling is compelling enough as it is, and to say that we’re impressed by the expert level of coordination and rehearsal involved in setting up these shots would be the understatement of the century.

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Clive Owen and Julianne Moore in Children of Men (2006)

And though Children of Men ultimately didn’t take any wins for its three Academy Award nominations, it’s no mystery that the film took won two BAFTA awards for Best Cinematography and Best Production Design.

It’s never easy to distill an actor’s contributions to film down to one single piece of work, but in the case of Clive Owen, it’s safe to say that Children of Men has everything you’d want to see in a film. And it’s a fantastic entry point to his long and decorated career. The only fault with starting with his best film is that you’re going to have to lower your expectations for the rest of his filmography.

But one thing we can say about Clive Owen is that he always gives it his all. And as you dive deeper into his catalog, you’ll find yourself unearthing so many iconic films that have stood the test of time like Children of Men.