Welcome to a broken world where no one can be trusted. Immigrants are kept in cages, city streets are littered with human filth and women have been infertile for 18 years. Civilization seems to be nearing a brutal end. And that end is uncomfortably near.

Set in 2027, Alfonso Cuar–n’s newest endeavor, “Children of Men,” does not feel like science fiction. Nor does it feel like fiction at all, for that matter. In this glimpse of the future there are no droids, hovercrafts or space suits. Rather, the demise of humanity stems from problems that are anything but far-flung – current issues of government corruption, terrorism and immigration have evolved in the worst way possible. Cuar–n creates a reality that is neither distant nor unbelievable – and that is what makes it so terrifying.

Theo (Clive Owen), a disillusioned ex-activist, is getting his morning coffee in the midst of the rubble, when he is abducted by a wanted terrorist group led by a woman from his past (Julianne Moore). Reluctant at first, Theo takes on the task of transporting a young pregnant girl, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), a miracle in and of herself, to the ambiguous Human Project, although no one is certain that it even exists.

Theo is no gallant hero. He wanders around the gray London streets, barely noticing the horrific explosions that plague the police state that surrounds him. The wonder of Kee’s pregnancy finally gives him something to live for. Owen brings his brooding intensity and dark humor to the role, creating a character who, despite his cynicism, is undeniably likable.

The most spark and vivacity comes from Theo’s friend Jasper (Michael Caine), an aging hippie whose optimism may be a side effect of his strawberry-flavored weed.

This darkly poignant film is quite a leap from Cuar–n’s past work, which includes the Mexican road film “Y Tu Mam‡ TambiŽn” (2001) and the children-friendly “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004). With astonishing versatility, Cuar–n seems to direct a range of genres with unprecedented skill.

Using seamlessly edited shots, Cuar–n portrays a shockingly real view of war in which there is no glory or patriotism, only mindless massacre. Refugee communities bear an eerie resemblance to concentration camps, littering the English countryside, while soldiers have no mercy and dead bodies are used as bullet shields.

Watching a war-torn world destroy itself may sound unbearably depressing. Yet, amidst the dreary vision of our fate, there are small, if not profound, instances of human triumph. Without giving away the film’s climax, there is one major moment in which a group of previously faceless soldiers are moved to lower their weapons in teary-eyed awe at an unexpected sight, which is unbelievably powerful.
And the shots of Kee’s swollen belly are nothing short of stunningly beautiful.

“Children of Men” is difficult to watch, yet our eyes remain glued to the screen, leaving us with a hauntingly realistic sense of urgency that sticks long after leaving the theater. Hopefully for the human race, this compellingly brilliant view of the future contains more fiction than prophecy after all.