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Review - Child 44

By midlandsmovies, Aug 25 2015 02:25PM

Child 44 (2015) Dir. Daniel Espinosa

Set during the Stalinist years of the Soviet Union, this drama-mystery is based on the 2008 novel about a Ministry of State Security Agent called Leo (Tom Hardy) who uncovers some brutal child murders in Moscow.

Later, Leo’s wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) is accused of state disloyalty and they are both sent to the impoverished and industrial town of Volsk under the command of Gary Oldman’s General Nesterov. As more crimes are uncovered, the state attempts to supress the killings (only capitalist ‘pig-dogs’ create serial killers apparently) but Hardy and Rapace travel between Volsk and Moscow, using the same train line as the murderer appears to be, to find out what is going on.

If this all sounds very intriguing, it really isn’t. We haven’t got the intended “whodunit” thriller but more of a “who ruined it”. I can only guess the book was better but in all honesty the film was bum-numbingly dull. With so much talent (Paddy Considine and Jason Clarke also appear) and Hardy reprising his partnership with Rapace from their turn in The Drop earlier this year, I really expected much better.

Oppressive Eastern European regimes can make interesting film subjects – just see The Lives of Others – and additionally, Rapace’s investigations in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have seen her thrust into murderous mysteries before. However, unlike those and The Changeling – whose historic missing/murdered children plot was shot with minimal fuss by Clint Eastwood – this long drawn out affair has little intrigue, suspense or tension. The drama becomes a series of slow sequences haphazardly put together and the brown-ish colour palette, rather than giving the film an archaic sepia-esque quality, further dulls the senses.

Hardy gives us his “gruff-macho” voice again (see also Lawless, Mad Max, ‘Bane’, The Drop etc) and although criticised by some, the heavy and stereotypical Russian accents used by everyone didn’t bother me as much as the English accents of the Nazis in Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie.

Although it has an amazing cast doing their best with leaden dialogue, Child 44 has a tediously sluggish narrative that turns what could have been an intriguing look at a despotic state into a viewing experience akin to forced labour. With 3 actors from 2012’s Lawless (Hardy, Oldman & Clarke), the film is less Lawless and more lifeless. A tedious bore.


Midlands Movies Mike

Aug 26 2015 07:36AM by Ren Zelen

Oh my, what a shameful waste of acting talent. As with so many movies, sloppy writing lets it down, I'm assuming?

Aug 27 2015 04:40PM by Midlands Movies

The writing is fine. The direction and editing is really poor resulting in such a slow movie.

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