Child 44 (2015)
Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) is a high ranking official in the Russian secret police during World War II. His job is simple – find and eliminate traitorous threats, however, when it comes to his attention that his own wife is named as a traitor, he has a decision to make. He can either renounce her and be praised by his peers or he can side with her and risk banishment or possible death. If all of this political drama wasn’t enough to cloud Leo’s mind, an apparent serial killer is on the loose in Moscow targeting young boys around train yards.
As you can tell from the synopsis above, there is actually 2 separate stories going on here that try to be woven together. You have on one hand the political story where Leo has to juggle his job and the accusation of his wife being a traitor and on the other hand the investigation of the child killer. As the movie starts out, I was very intrigued by the story and the characters. The Russian accents were a little hard to follow, but it didn’t hinder my understanding of the film. However, once the crime thriller involving the dead boys starts, I was baffled as to how the 2 stories intersected. Why couldn’t these 2 idea be 2 different movies? I understand the characters are the same, but the movie basically tells us that once Leo and Raisa are banished, they decide to fill their time with a murder investigation. It just didn’t flow, and because it didn’t flow, the movie seems to fall apart due to having too many things going on. Because there was so much going on, the movie drags on and on with many scenes being redundant and/or irrelevant. I’m thinking that about 30 minutes of this movie could have been cut out with many of the core concepts being retained. In fact, I strongly believe this movie should have been split into 2. One about the murder mystery and one about the political dilemma facing Leo and his family.
As far as the actual movie itself is concerned, the setting, costumes and acting is superb. Tom Hardy is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors in Hollywood. Gary Oldman and Noomi Rapace are in their elements with this subject matter and offer great support. I do feel that the characters they portray are flawed to the point that the audience will not have sympathy for them. The interactions these characters have are off-putting and confusing. People are double-crossing and backstabbing in one scene only for the next scene to show these same people as trusting and loyal. I found it hard to care if anyone in this movie lived or died except for Leo. Everyone else is shown as either heartless, mean or untrustworthy and it wears on the viewer.
When it is all said and done, Child 44 had a great idea and premise, however, I strongly believe that this should have been turned into 2 movies due to the stories and length. The story is both interesting and messy all at the same time which leads us to pray the movie ends way before it actually does. You best bet is to skip this unless you really like the cast. Co-starring Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Noomi Rapace, Vincent Cassel, Jason Clarke, and Paddy Considine.
5/10 Stars – Child 44 has a great idea and premise, however, I feel it tries to take on way too much and the jumbled plot and length show for it.