‘CHILD 44’ Movie Review
“Set during Stalin’s Soviet Union rule, disgraced MGB Agent Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) is tasked with investigating a strange and brutal series of child murders.” That is what IMDB and Wiki say about Child 44. Here’s what Agents Of Geek has to say about this movie:
Leo (Hardy) is a MGB Agent, a kind of hero who everyone looks up to. He’s highly respected by his comrades (mostly) and adored by his wife Raise (not really). The story to Child 44 is not a simple one. There are at least five separate story threads going on at once. There is the relationship problems between Leo and Raise (Noomi Rapace), there is the issues Leo is having with traitors within Soviet Russia and there is also a serial killer on the loose who is murdering Russia’s children. There are so many more plot threads than the three I’ve mentioned, but I’ll leave those for you to discover on your own.
Child 44 starts strong. Hardy gives a powerful performance, though he does lose the Russian accent every now and then. Noomi’s is also nuanced and well crafted; sadly, the world these characters inhabit is incredibly convoluted and boring. We are given a thorough history lesson in the opening caption — Stalin’s Russia murder did not exist because it was a capitalist problem and the USSR was above that. This is where the main cusp of the story is centered, for the most part. But when Wiki and IMDB say Leo is tasked with finding this murderer, they could not be more wrong. He does this against the wishes of the government because, “There is no murder in paradise.” Now this was interesting to learn about the first time I heard of it. After the fifth time I was told in the first 45 minutes, I got bored. Really bored.
There are few compelling elements in Child 44. Moments are dragged out and there is no focus given to one particular story. With three-plus story lines going on at once you can’t focus or care for one. Now, I will say there is this subplot with two children and Leo that is genuinely interesting and tear jerking, but it’s not given enough screen time. When we finally reach the “villain” (the dude killing children), we don’t care. It’s two hours in before Leo actually gets close to him and when he does, another story thread shows up to be resolved. The latter feels like it is basically screaming, “Don’t forget about me, don’t forget about me!”
Is there anything that saves Child 44? The opening is pretty strong. It sets the stage for a period drama better suited as a five-part BBC special. Hardy and Rapace are great, as well. They each have scenes that bring you to tears. Sadly it doesn’t matter because the story and the world are just so drab. Now you might think I mean the colour palette is drab, and it is, but it’s authentic. The USSR has never looked more convincing than it does here. This proves that the cinematography and directing is technically very good. With all that said, Child 44‘s problems still outweigh the merits.
If Child 44 is proof of one thing, it’s that a great cast doesn’t mean a great movie. Unless you are a history buff looking for a movie to delve deep into a story based on stories closely resembling life “back in the day,” avoid Child 44.