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Child 44 Review


OK

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.

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Tom Hardy Debuts Yet Another Fine Accent In Ridley Scott Thriller 'Child 44' [Trailer]


Tom Hardy Ridley Scott Noomi Rapace Gary Oldman Joel Kinnaman Charles Dance Greg Shapiro Richard Price

Tom Hardy has a go at yet another accent in the Ridley Scott produced 'Child 44', an adaptation of Tom Rob Smith's award-winning 2008 novel about a series of brutal murders during the time of the Soviet Union.

Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy in 'Child 44'
Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy go head to head in 'Child 44'

Hardy plays a former Russian military officer named Leo Demidov in the thriller, who's offered the highest protection in the wake of his war heroism. But things take a dark turn when it becomes apparent that a set of ongoing child killings are being covered up by the authorities, and Demidov wants to do the right thing and find the perpetrator - to much anger from his Stalin obsessed superiors. 

Continue reading: Tom Hardy Debuts Yet Another Fine Accent In Ridley Scott Thriller 'Child 44' [Trailer]

Detachment Review


OK
An almost overpowering sense of hopelessness makes this education-system drama difficult to watch. Fortunately, it's directed and acted with enough sensitivity to stir our sympathies. Although we're not sure we want to go wherever this bleak story might be heading.

Henry (Brody) takes a month-long assignment teaching at a tough school run by beleaguered principal Carol (Harden). Unflappable in the face of the unruly students, he calmly tries to get through to the teens. He clicks with fellow teacher Sarah (Hendricks). As a substitute, Henry's job is to maintain order, which seems like an impossible challenge. So he instead reaches out to a teen hooker (Gayle), thinking he might actually be able to make a difference in her life. But he can't help but wonder if he's doing more harm than good.

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A Very Harold & Kumar 3d Christmas Review


Good
A warm, squishy centre makes this smutty comedy surprisingly endearing as it bounces from one random set piece to another, by way of a series of outrageous cameos. The sex, drugs and violence get a bit tiring, but the amusing writing and acting keep us laughing.

While stoner Kumar (Penn) is failing to cope with the chaos of his life, now-respectable banker Harold (Cho) is dreading Christmas with his wife's (Garces) extended family, including his terrifying father-in-law Perez (Trejo).

When Kumar drops off a mis-delivered package at Harold's house, their first meeting in six years causes instant chaos. Now they have to team up to replace Perez's prized Christmas tree. This involves scary encounters with a Scarface-style mobster (Koteas), mean-acting tree sellers (RZA and Da'Vone McDonald) and the real Santa (Richard Riehle).

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The Conspirator Review


OK
Robert Redford revisits the Lincoln assassination with this earnest historical drama. Being a relatively obscure chapter of American history, the story is pretty fascinating, although the film is so parched that it rarely comes alive.

After the President is murdered in 1865, inexperienced lawyer Frederick (McAvoy) is assigned to defend Mary Surratt (Wright), who is charged with conspiracy alongside eight others. As a war hero from the North, Frederick is horrified to get this job, but is convinced by his boss (Wilkinson) that she at least deserves a fair trial. Of course, in the hysteria following the war and assassination, that's not likely. The judge (Meaney) clearly takes sides, the prosecutor (Huston) is relentlessly arrogant and the war secretary (Kline) has already decided on a verdict and sentence.

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The Hurt Locker Review


Excellent
It's intriguing to watch a battlefield movie that manages to be gritty and harrowing as well as sensitive and moving, but that's what Bigelow has done.

This is a film that often makes us flinch from the screen, mainly because of a superbly layered performance by Renner.

In war-torn Baghdad, the American bomb disposal team uses dry humour to cope with their job. But the new senior officer, James (Renner), is rather enigmatic and strange. His teammates Sanborn and Eldridge (Mackie and Geraghty) find his maverick attitude difficult, leading to tense exchanges in extreme situations.

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Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Review


Weak
They say that familiarity breeds contempt. No wonder sequels suck. Audiences are so ready for more of what made the first movie memorable that by the time part two delivers the repetitive goods, the sameness starts to stink. Four years ago, a couple of dope smoking dudes named Harold and Kumar took a massive case of the munchies and turned it into a New Jersey night from hell. Now they're back for more herb-induced adventures -- and oddly enough, the follow-up isn't as loathsome as it is loony.

When last we left our duo, they were headed to the Chronic capital of the world, Amsterdam. Unfortunately, Kumar (Kel Penn) cannot wait until they land. Over Harold's (John Cho) objections, he takes out a high tech bong. Passengers on the plane confuse it with a "bomb" and, before they know it, the guys are headed to Gitmo, labeled as terrorists. Happenstance provides a means of escape, and the boys head to Miami with a bunch of Cuban refugees. Their goal? Get to Texas. There, an old friend with political ambitions (Eric Winter) may be able to clear their names. Oh, and he's also marrying Kumar's ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Danneel Harris). Harold knows the couple can help. His buddy, on the other hand, still holds a torch for his former gal pal. As they make their way across country, Feds (Rob Corddry, Roger Bart) in hot pursuit, Kumar daydreams of breaking up the impending nuptials.

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Rules of Attraction Review


Grim
I wondered while laboring through Roger Avary's new film The Rules of Attraction if, now that I'm approaching 30, I've lost my appreciation for early 20s angst. It was a brief wondering, interrupted by a fierce gust of "No, wait, I had a good bout of the angsts yesterday trying to determine whether the future would involve employment or this hazy otherworld of 'freelancing' and 'contract work' I occupy now." Then I ate breakfast and forgot about it. Avary, who hit the career zenith in the gloomy early 1990s by winning an Academy Award for co-writing Pulp Fiction and is now 37, hasn't. He spends the better part of two hours trying to convince us that making James Van Der Beek do cocaine and say "fuck" a lot is some kind of Statement About the Hopelessness and Desperation of This Generation. How's this for a pitch? "It's like Kids...but in college!"

But it isn't. In the hands of a professional angst wrangler like Larry Clark, I'd bite. Clark makes up his mind fairly quickly whether we're supposed to care or not about his waistoid characters and their crappy lives and then creates but honestly and with ugliness in this vain. Avary directs like a nasty teenager, asking you to care and then laughing at you for doing so.

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Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle Review


Excellent
Good bake movies are, at best, an underserved market. The last decade has seen only a few films that have plot, possibility, intelligent humor and interesting characters. Instead, it's seen a slew of movies that are just funny as hell with no sense of direction and redeeming cinematic value.

But who cares?

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