Child 44 full movie review - I love a good ending and was rewarded for staying with this film
It is progressively rarer to have Hollywood films storyline take place in a foreign countries war time era in the first half of the 20th century.
Child 44 is one of those exceptions which combined the Stalin era of fear and propaganda (Example: The Soviet Union has no murderers and no homosexuals) in a totalitarian state with a purported child serial killer on the loose. Unless you have a fondness for reading up on your history of the World War 1 & 2 era, the first 30 minutes of this film may not relate with the audience as it depicts how millions of people were being starved to death and if they were lucky to live, they would be terrorized by the Russian militia.
Child 44 stars Tom Hardy as Leo Demidov a security officer whose job it is to weed out protesters and anti Joseph Stalin revolutionaries. Leo recently married the beautiful Raisa (played by Noomi Rapace) who early in the film explains to Leo that she married her security officer husband out of fear and not because she loved him. I think the film's director Daniel Espinosa could have created a more personal film for his audience if he had effectively explained why Raisa feared for her life and so she chose to marry Leo just to survive thinking she had no choice in the marriage to a Russian security officer. As the movie progresses we see that Leo is not the hard ass he appears to be, and his love for Raisa is beyond reproach.
As in any military regime there are men with egos, and who aspire to greater military roles. The scumbag who holds down this role is actor Joel Kinnaman who plays Vasili who continually tries to undermine his commander Leo by engaging in acts of terror against the people which include cold blooded murder and executions by military shootings against a compound wall which is plastered with bullet holes and his selected victims blood splatters. Vasili also has eyes on destroying Leo by taking away his job in the military as well as convincing his wife Raisa to leave Leo and come live with him. Through time Raisa finds out just what type of man she has married. Leo is a man who is very tough, persistent, focused on finding a child serial killer which his government emphatically denies even exists. Leo is also a man who truly loves his wife Raisa and would rather lose her by allowing her to make her own decision to stay with him or leave him without any repercussions. Two other good performances are presented by Gary Oldman playing General Mikhail Nesterov who Leo is assigned to report to in the slum town of Rostov as part of his banishment for pursuing a serial killer.
The other good performance is that of Paddy Considine who plays the sly child sexual predator named Vladimir Malevich who picks up children at various train stations by offering them food and candy. Loosely based on the real life Soviet child serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. Chikatilo was born in 1936, who himself experienced between 1941 and 1944, witnessed some of the effects of the Nazi occupation of Ukraine. Chikatilo was a constant child bed wetter living in fear as a child of wartime strife and in his latter adult years was responsible for at least 52 children's murders which took place between 1978 and 1990.
Child 44 focuses on the relationship between Russian military officer Leo Demidov and his wife Raisa, and how the slimy military officer Vasili uses his painful interrogation tactics to lie about his superiors (Leo Demidov) knowledge of his wife's involvement in the anti Stalins sentiments.
The downside to the film for me was the difficulty of the Russian dialect for Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman in particular to achieve, and the use of a sub par grainy brownish colorization utilized by director Daniel Espinosa to influence the film being in the World War II era. I think the film editing should have been able to enhance the films end product with both the dialogue and cinematography but overall the film was both painful to watch due to the real suffering a world war is responsible for, as well as for a wonderful ending which I don't want to spoil for any potential first time film viewers. The excellent performances by both Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace will continue to keep them in good stead with their followers. I give Child 44 a sound 7 out of 10 rating. Child 44 will be on my "TO PURCHASE" list.