Courtesy of Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate

Child 44

21:12 April 23, 2015
By: Fritz Esker

** out of ****

Based on Tom Rob Smiths bestseller, Child 44 is the story of a Soviet detective and WWII hero (Tom Hardy) confronted with the death of a colleagues child. His colleague thinks it

was murder, but the Communist Partys official stance is that murder is a decadent Western phenomenon not seen in the USSR.

Eventually, Hardy comes around and begins investigating on the sly. Theres plenty of potential in the story, and occasionally the movie seizes on it. Its part police procedural, part examination of life under Stalins reign of terror. But the life­under­Stalinism parts are better, as citizens continuously face hard choices about what they can and cant say. They constantly fear when their moment will come, when theyll be taken away to a gulag or to be executed. A story

by Hardys wife (Noomi Rapace) explaining why she really married him is particularly sad. Unfortunately, the film as a whole is too cluttered (it runs 137 minutes). The serial killer

stuff is fairly perfunctory, and director Daniel Espinosa badly botches the staging of two important action scenes in the final act. The movie loses momentum when it should be gaining it.

As usual, Hardy gives a capable performance in the lead, but Child 44 lets him down. 

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