Child 44

"Good"

Child 44 Review


A meaty, fascinating story is splintered into three plot strands that battle for the viewer's attention, so while the film is never boring, it's also oddly uninvolving. Fortunately, it has an excellent cast and is shot with skill and a relentless intensity to feel like a big, epic-style dramatic thriller with heavy political overtones.

After a scene-setting prologue, the story starts in 1953 Moscow, where Leo (Tom Hardy) is a war hero now working in the military police, purging the city of its spies. Or at least its suspected spies. In the Soviet socialist utopia, crime officially doesn't exist, but Leo finds it difficult to tell his best pal Alexei (Fares Fares) that his 8-year-old son was killed in a train accident when he was so clearly tortured and murdered. Ordered by his boss (Vincent Cassel) to let it go, and menaced by his rival colleague Vasili (Joel Kinnaman), Leo continues investigating, resulting in a reprimand that sees Leo and his wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) relocated to the the grim industrial city of Volsk. But when another young boy's body appears here, Leo gets his new boss (Gary Oldman) to see the connection.

There are at least three main plots in this film, and the filmmakers oddly never allow one to become the central strand. There's the mystery involving this brutal, unhinged serial killer (Paddy Considine) stalking boys along the railway. There's the thriller about Leo being brutally taunted by Vasili, who has a thing for Raisa and is trying to crush them for good. But the only emotionally engaging strand is Leo and Raisa's complex marriage relationship, which takes a couple of unexpected turns. Along the way, there are several action sequences shot with shaky cameras and edited so they're impossible to follow. And there's a sense that the film also wants to be a grandiose Russian epic with its expansive cinematography and big orchestral score.

All of this is very well done. And the cast is terrific, with Hardy delivering a magnetic central performance that brings out layers of his moral struggle. Rapace gives one of her best performances yet as the conflicted Raisa, while Oldman offers a memorable supporting turn in a role that feels like it should have been larger. There's so much going on here that as the film powers past the two-hour mark we begin to get exhausted by the way Swedish director Daniel Espinosa makes everything feel so weighty. Still, the story is set in an intriguing time in Russian history rarely depicted on screen, and there's so much going on that, even if we never feel very much, we have plenty to look at.


Child 44 Trailer

 



Child 44

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 137 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th April 2015

Distributed by: Summit Entertainment

Production compaines: Summit Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, Worldview Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Producer: , Michael Schaefer,

Starring: as Leo Demidov, as Raisa Demidov, as General Mikhail Nesterov, as Vasili, as Vladimir Malevich, as Anatoly Brodsky, as Major Kuzmin, as Alexei Andreyev, as Major Grachev, Xavier Atkins as Young Leo Demidov, as Tortoise, Karel Dobrey as Photographer, Agnieszka Grochowska as Nina Andreyeva, Petr Vaněk as Fyodor, Jana Stryková as Mara

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