Child 44 when it came out in a small release had a hard time by audiences and critics alike, it currently holds an unfair 25% at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s directed by the fairly unremarkable Daniel Espinosa who previously directed the Swedish Easy Money and the Hollywood Safe House, Child 44 is an American/British cross production. It stars two of the greatest British actors Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman along with a strong supporting cast.
In the early ’50s Soviet Russia, MGB agent Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) who is recently disgraced along with his wife Raisa Demidova (Noomi Rapace) they go to small Russian town but a series of child murders spread into the small town as well. Demidov suspects there is more than meets the eye especially after officers claim they weren’t murdered so he investigates it. It’s interesting this film has come out during the ongoing the Operation Yellow Tree enquiry in the UK, where child molestation reaches the high reaches of power, there is certainly an unintentional parallel.
The film suffers greatly from poor pacing, it’s nearly 2 and half hours and could easily lose about 20 minutes of it’s running time and would have very little impact on the narrative. The costume and production design has a real sense of time and place and cinematography by Philippe Rousselot is his usual impressive work. It’s based on the best-selling novel by Tom Rob Smith but was adapted to screen by novelist Richard Price (The Wanderers) and is clearly a bit of hack work for Price and somebody should have probably cut the script down.
Tom Hardy is having an obviously impressive run at the moment starring in still the best film of the year Mad Max: Fury Road and it about to be seen as the Kray twins in Legend. Hardy does his best Russian accent and brings his usual physicality to the role. Noomi Rapace is a nice mixture of emotion but enough physicality especially in the last act to make it convincing. Gary Oldman shows up as Hardy’s higher up in the small town he is forced to move too as he tends to do in films, just show up for a bit and collect a pay check but he gives a decent performance. Vincent Cassel brings his usual menace and Paddy Considine brings an air creepiness to his role even if his accent isn’t that convincing in the end.
Overall Child 44 is a muddled affair, an interesting subject and plot but overly long and could have used edits in the script and editing departments. Strong performances from most of the cast but seems like a missed opportunity at times but engaging enough to be partially satisfying. The disc is pretty barebones except a short 8 minute featurette which mostly focuses on the costume and production design.
Drama, Thriller | USA, 2015 | 15 | Entertainment One UK | Dir.Daniel Espinosa |Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Paddy Considine, Joel Kinnaman, Vincent Cassel, |Buy:Child 44 [Blu-ray]