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Movie Review

Child 44

MPAA Rating: R for violence, some disturbing images, language and a scene of sexuality.

Reviewed by: Pamela Gardner

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Crime Mystery Thriller Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 17 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 17, 2015 (wide—500+ theaters)
DVD: August 4, 2015
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Relevant Issues
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depravity of man

child murders

evils of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union

Ministerstvo Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti [MGB]—Soviet intelligence agency, the Ministry for State Security, which later became the KGB secret police

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irony of extreme criminality in an atheist Communist state which says “there is no crime in Paradise,” refusing to admit the existence of sin and the depravity of mankind

silence and fear in Communist society bred ignorance and an unwilligness to tell the truth


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homosexuality in the USSR and the Stalinist’s attempt to blame homosexuals and the mentally retarded for these terrible crimes

story inspired by the monstrous crimes of real life serial child molestator, sadistic sexual assault murder Andrei Chikatilo, aka The Rostov Ripper and The Butcher of Rostov

Novel: Child 44 by Gay British writer Tom Rob Smith (Wikipedia)

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husband and wife relationship / difficulties caused by lack of honesty

Featuring: Tom HardyLeo Demidov
Noomi RapaceRaisa Demidov
Gary OldmanGeneral Mikhail Nesterov
Joel Kinnaman … Vasili
Charles Dance … Major Grachev
Jason Clarke … Anatoly Brodsky
Vincent Cassel … Major Kuzmin
Tara Fitzgerald … Inessa Nesterov
Vlastina Svátková … Rostov parent
Paddy Considine … Vladimir Malevich
Sam Spruell … Doctor Tyapkin
more »
Director: Daniel Espinosa—“Safe House,” “Easy Money”
Producer: Ridley Scott—optioned the film rights

Summit Entertainment
Worldview Entertainment
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Distributor: Summit Entertainment

“There are no murders in Paradise.”

“Child 44” takes place in Stalin-era Soviet Union. In an orphanage, where children are starved, we see a young boy witness the beating of another boy. He uses this distraction to escape to what he hopes is a better life. He runs into the Stalin regime, where he is taken and turned into a solider and is given the name “Leo.”

Fast forward 10 years, Leo (Tom Hardy), is now a high ranking official in the military police. He is married and much respected by his fellow officers. His orders include finding, capturing murdering individuals accused of standing against the regime.

However, his life takes a dramatic turn when the son of his best friend is found dead. The parents are told that the child’s death was accidental, to perpetuate a lie of the Stalinist totalitarian government, “There are no murders in Paradise” Leo is commanded to inform the parents/his best friend not to question the governments official report. To make matters worse, Leo’s wife has also been identified as a traitor. Leo refuses to denounce his wife and is betrayed by his fellow officers, and forced to leave his old life with his wife (who we learn has her own secrets) and live as a disgraced officer.

Leo finds himself under the orders of General Mikhail Nesterov (Gary Oldman), soon after his arrival another young boy is found murdered. A cover up is revealed, and Leo is determined to find the truth.

The intricate design of the plot sets up a thrilling, period drama.

Before I saw the trailer, I insisted on seeing this film for the acting genius of Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman. I was no disappointed, Hardy truly gives a masterful performance and keeps the story going—and interesting. However, the plot could be clearer. The rest of the cast is adequate, but overshadowed by Hardy and Oldman.

There is an abundance of objectionable content, gratuitous swearing (including many f-words), extreme violence and nudity. Some seemed appropriate and conducive to the plot, but it was definitely excessive.

As for the biblical aspect, the depravity of man is the backdrop. When we humans remove God from all aspects of life, anything and everything is permitted. Good is evil and evil is good. With the rise of Christian persecution around the world, we are unfortunately seeing history repeat itself. Christians need to be bold in proclaiming the Gospel to our lost and dark world. We are called to be salt and light, even if it means we are seen as unpopular—or worse.

I cannot recommend this film. While the acting is above reproach, the storyline is too dark and contains excessive objectionable material.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This is an excellent film. I go to movies all the time, and this is one of those that you say to yourself, “That was a great movie!” …There are two sex scenes that are not gratuitous, but making a plot point. As a Christian, I just turned my head away. They are very obvious, short and unsexy. The language is also harsh and realistic, but not trying to be vulgar, merely accurate. I would have preferred less—but I live in the world, but I’m not part of it.

Having said all this… this was an impactful heroic story… IMO Why go see it?—Great acting (Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace) (They have intricate twists in their characters)—Deep. Thought-out believable characters—Unpredictable and believable storyline—An unfolding Thriller / with high stakes—A romantic connection with real world depth—Engrossing movie world. Brought me into the story—deep “all-at-stake” movie that was actually also a “FEEL-GOOD” movie.

Ignore the “history buffs” critics and go see it. You’ll love it! Intense! 9 out of 10.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Eric, age 53 (USA)


Movie Critics

…dark Soviet thriller, in which a serial killer isn't nearly as scary as the system that refuses to investigate him. …
—Peter Debruge, Variety

…a sprawling and gloomy tale of murder, treachery and political misery probably wouldn't have seen the light of day without a star-studded international roster, including the always watchable Tom Hardy as a disgraced war hero trying to catch the bad guy and Noomi Rapace as the woman who keeps him going… Mother Russia has never looked so grim…
—Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

…While an eye-catching call sheet saves it from the movie gulag, this unfortunately so-so adaptation of a far richer novel does feel a little like the cinematic equivalent of eating your bodyweight in kasha. [2/5]
—Ali Plumb, Empire

…a passable thriller… Not all the factors that made the book a success have translated to the film intact, but a key one has, and it's that singular setting. …
—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

…A taxing slog through Russia… unrelentingly grim, plodding, and close-to-incoherent adaptation… [1½/4]
—Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

…Yes, it's a film about Stalinist Russia. But watching it feels like being sent to the Gulag. some truly brutal fight sequences, all hand-to-hand… the film is so unremittingly ugly it's hard to want to watch… [1½]
—Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)

…Calling “Child 44” a mash-up of “Dr. Zhivago” and “Silence of the Lambs” doesn’t do enough to capture how strange it is. When a bad guy and a worse guy are literally wrestling in the mud, you can’t tell who is who — but what’s worse is, you don’t care. … [2/4]
—Kyle Smith, New York Post

…dull and stodgy adaptation of Tom Rob Smith’s KGB page-turner…
—Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)

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