“Remember there is no death in paradise”.
Set during the Stalinist ‘Paradise’ era, just after world war II in 1953. It’s Soviet Russia where the idea of murder is seen as (or an enforced idea) as outside (or specifically US) propaganda. Something to stir up the 'Russian’ ideals and bring the country to its knees. Obviously horse-shit but it shows an extremely bleak and depressing world view.
That’s the world of 'Child 44’. From the opening in a grim looking orphanage where 'Leo’ (Tom Hardy) leaves to join the war effort - it’s all dark and grey. Unfortunately, at the start seeing a fire-fight take place with erratic camera movements and barely visible action in front of me I didn’t expect 'Child 44’ to be nothing more than - OK. Unfair at the start but the rest of the film proved my precautions. The story sees 'Leo’ team up with 'Mikhail’ (Gary Oldman) to uncover who is murdering all these children. Naturally “There’s no death in paradise” prevents our two comrades from getting to the truth. But the film isn’t really about the murders.
However, It feels like it thinks it is. It seems to have split the film intro three. With Leo’s fearful wife 'Raisa’ (Noomi Rapace), Leo’s Psychotic rival 'Visali’ (Joel Kinnaman) and of course the murders. It’s an interesting idea at its core and I’m sure the book is better, but the intended thriller aspect isn’t there. Simply because there’s no chase. They track him down within 15 minutes of 'Leo’ and 'Mikhail’s team up. Coinciding with a final show down between 'Leo’ and 'Visali’ which is somewhat interesting but still felt a touch hollow.
That’s all not to say I disliked it but it felt more like a missed opportunity, all the so called shocks and brutality isn’t impact-full of menacing from 'Visali’ - and I don’t know why. The actors do a great job (even if some of questionable Russian accents - some even none-existent). That’s not the problem everything is all so nice, there’s nothing I can pin-point as great - maybe the visuals from the settings and costumes.
It all accumulates to a forgettable film with a steady set of scenes that offer mild intrigue but little in the way of thrills. Bar a good last fight scene, mundane is the word of the day. There’s nothing particularly bad but the promise of intrigue and the hinted at reason why the killer did what the killer did doesn’t go beyond there. A well built world no matter how good doesn’t help if the intrigue isn’t there. In a year I’ll have forgotten this - It’ll make a good quiz answer fro 'Gary Oldman’ films.