Set in 1954 Soviet Russia, Child 44 stars Tom Hardy as secret police agent and war hero Leo Demidov, exiled after he refuses to publicly declare his wife, Raisa (Noomi Rapace) a traitor. Expelled to the outskirts of Moscow, he is forced to team up with General Mikhail Nesterov (Gary Oldman) in the search for a serial killer who’s responsible for the murders of young boys. In their search for truth and justice, they discover a massive cover-up led by Leo’s adversary, Vasili (Joel Kinnaman).
Adapted from Tom Rob Smith’s same named novel and loosely based on the true events of Andrei Chikatilo, Child 44 is an ominous thriller that emphasises the dark and harrowing environment of Soviet Russia. The film contains numerous frightening storylines, from the intriguing story of the mysterious murders and the working of the secret police, Child 44 paints an grim depiction of the USSR.
Produced by Ridley Scott (Alien, The Martian), the film unifies a powerhouse ensemble cast with Hardy, Rapace, Oldman, Kinnaman, Jason Clarke and Vincent Cassel. Reuniting from Michael Roskam’s The Drop, Hardy and Rapace once again play love interest’s, this time in married form. Solidifying their acting ability, both actors standout with certain scenes in mind. With powerful performances, especially Hardy’s intense disgraced war hero, the film gives each actor an appropriate character, every persona menacing in their own way.
The film houses such a rich and spirited USSR energy, from the thick, heavy accents to the troika, Child 44 stays authentic to the Soviet Russian vice. A certain element stands out with the cinematography, Oliver Wood illustrates the ruthless and bleak surroundings of each location, further reinforcing the foreboding aura. Even with such a strong ensemble cast, the film fails to grasp its entertainment value due to a lengthy duration time as well as the confusing and murky delivering of the storyline. Led by Hardy and Oldman, Child 44 is as gloomy as its true foundation.