Featuring clunky storytelling and slower pacing, Child 44 is more of a drama than a thriller. They took a plethora of interesting issues and just threw them at the viewer, hoping that something will stick. From geopolitical and sociological issues we glance over World War II, war crimes, friendship, love, loyalty, ambition, and desire. And the list doesn’t stop there. We’ve also got murder, pedophilia, corruption, and many other elements. There’s enough content here for two Netflix television shows. So, to compress it all into one movie is bound to cause all kinds of problems.
Despite all of this, Child 44 is still worth a watch. This is one of those fire and forget movies. You watch it once and then forget all about it. If for nothing else than for its formidable cast. Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman were all excellent here. However, Fares Fares, stole the show for me. You might remember him from another Soviet-themed thing, Chernobyl although, at least for me, he will always be the tormented detective from The Nile Hilton Incident.
Thanks to the $50 million budget, the movie looks great. The sets perfectly captured the spirit of Soviet Russia. And you can bet your ass that the costumes, cars, and everything else also looked great. Right from the opening scene, you’re transported into this cold and dreary world. Not that many places were different after the horrors of WWII. This is a Ridley Scott production and what he tried to do here he finally accomplished some six years later in The Last Duel.
Welcome to the Soviet Union! We won WWII and everything is just perfect, including the people. Leo Demidov, a war hero now working with the Ministry of State Security, just caught a nasty case. A dead child is found near the railroad tracks and while the higher-ups think this is an accident, he wants to investigate the case further. What he will discover is going to shock not just the Soviet Union but the whole world.
One of the reasons behind the seemingly disjointed storytelling is the fact that the first cut of the film was 5 1/2 hours long. I think that they should just release the whole thing on Blu-Ray and at least try to save the movie from oblivion. The British are especially good with this format and you can find many great movies that work as trilogies. Or even mini-series.
So to prepare you properly for Child 44 I must tell you two more things:
This is not a movie about Andrei Chikatilo, Soviet’s first serial killer (although he’s present, the events are all wrong)
This is not a movie based on a book by Tom Rob Smith (haven’t read it, but everyone says they butchered it).
Now that you know that you can watch this movie as a separate entity. Perhaps as a documentary about the life in the Soviet Union. Sure, not everything you’re going to see is quite true but the vibe is there. You can follow it up with a hilarious black humor comedy The Death of Stalin. If you want to know more about the gruesome murders check out a much better movie Citizen X .
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writers: Richard Price, Tom Rob Smith
Cast: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Petr Vanek, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel, Gary Oldman, Sam Spruell
Fun Facts: After the first screening in Russia, the movie was banned in that country and a couple of surrounding ones.