Reviewed by: Pamela Gardner
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
homosexuality in the USSR and the Stalinist’s attempt to blame homosexuals and the mentally retarded for these terrible crimes
|Featuring:||Tom Hardy … Leo Demidov
Noomi Rapace … Raisa Demidov
Gary Oldman … General 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
|Director:||Daniel Espinosa—“Safe House,” “Easy Money”|
|Producer:||Ridley Scott—optioned the film rights
“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.
…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)