To that end the film is shot at shoulder level, and the camera moves around the actors effortlessly. This future is also yours, not just Theo's. In one scene you're inside a bus taking refugees into a walled ghetto. As the bus arrives, out the window you see rows of people lined up with hoods on their heads, being forced into cages. It happens in the same way you might pass a homeless man on the street. The movie unfolds indiscriminately. Some of the horrors, like these, are subtle. Others, not so much, like when the camera pans around and a man gets shot right as he leaves the field of view. The blood spattered on the lens reminds you he was once there.
As gripping and stunning as the movie is, reality set in when a mother stood up to take her three-year-old son to the bathroom. They returned a few minutes later and the boy sat quietly for the rest of the movie. He did not flinch or wince or feel any revulsion or fear — completely normal reactions to a movie like this. It seemed a terrible irony that here was a film showing that the level of violence we fund and propagate is simply unnatural in comparison to the frailty of human life, meanwhile a three-year-old boy seemed to be completely desensitized to it all. Are we already too late?
The real horror is not inside the movie. Instead, perhaps, it is that future rides the rails of our own very real desensitization to human value. The real horror perhaps, is the number of people who will pay their money, enjoy a sci-fi movie with liberal overtones, and remain unaffected by the contempt for human life displayed on the screen.
What the movie sets out to accomplish it does so profoundly well. Director Alfonso Cuarón is a gifted storyteller, and this is a masterpiece. It is a future that does not rely on sterile ray guns and force fields, but on metal weaponry and overbearing humiliation, accomplished with bloody shock and awe. Yet the solution to our problems has been with us all along. The real miracle is, of course, life itself. We just didn't appreciate it until it was gone.