|Noomi Rapace and Tom Hardy get close in Child 44|
Tom Hardy is one of those quiet types of actors that you tend to forget about until you see him in his next film and say, "Damn, I forgot how much I love Tom Hardy!". He's not one of those guys that basks in the spotlight. He commits to a role and then disappears for a little bit. What sells me on him every time, is how much he believes in the part he's portraying. When I first noticed him in 2002's, Star Trek: Nemesis, I had a feeling that he would be around for a long time. Regardless of how good a film is that he's in, he always brings his A-game. It doesn't matter if his movie's good or bad, I never find a fault in him, even when he played Bane (The Dark Knight Rises). Films like, Bronson, This Means War, and Lawless, would have been so much worse without him, and films like, RocknRolla, Inception, and The Warrior, were just that much better for him being there. He hasn't been the lead in too many films (The Drop, Locke) but, I think that that's going to be changing very soon.
Child 44 is Hardy's newest film that proves what I've been saying about him. Even when this film is lacking, he gives it his best. His commanding presence is what kept me from falling asleep at times. This film has a great premise that has rarely been seen in American cinema, which is of delving into Stalin era Russia during the 1950's. The problem is that in spite of its long running time (137 minutes), this film doesn't know how to properly tell the story. And that in and of itself, is a damn shame. The premise of trying to solve a child murderer mystery under the impossibly oppressive Stalin regime, is a fascinating idea to be told. So what went wrong? Well, this film can't properly balance its three main storylines, which are about the Russian justice system's corruption and the blind obedience of its officers, the serial killer, and Hardy's relationship with his wife played by Noomi Rapace (Prometheus). It focuses on the oppression and Hardy's marriage so much, that the selling point of this film (serial killer) is barely a blip on the radar. This film's large cast is also completely wasted, save for Hardy, Rapace, and Joel Kinnaman (Run All Night). Everyone else is relegated to small appearances and/or uninteresting dialogue. Intriguing actors like Gary Oldman (The Professional), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty), Vincent Cassel (Eastern Promises), Paddy Considine (The World's End), and Charles Dance (Dracula Untold), all fall to this film's lack of substance. To be honest, a lot of Child 44 is boring.
The overall look of this film, seems to be appropriate with what we've been shown and told about Russia at that time. The tone, the costumes, and the industrial look of its Czech Republic filming locations, all give a dooming sense of feeling. What's interesting, is that the Moscow scenes in the city all look similar to a large American city but, there's this shroud of tension in the air that if anyone steps out of line in anyway, they will just, disappear. Think Schindler's List meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers but, with the cloning pods being a disappointment every time that they open.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Child 44
The Good- Hardy's and Rapace's interactions with each other; Believable with the same onscreen chemistry that they had together in the underrated film, The Drop. Kinnaman's "stone faced" character get's what coming to him.
The Bad- Though a decent performance, Kinnaman's antagonist seemed to be evil just for evil's sake. This film should have focused less on him, and a lot more on the serial killer. Oh yeah, I forgot that there was a serial killer in this film that was supposed to be about A SERIAL KILLER!
The Ugly- Another great premise ruined by poor execution. Look at last year's The Monument's Men; A barely memorable film that now has a mate to cuddle with in mediocrity.
Final Thoughts on Child 44
Hardy's performance and the premise of Stalin's Nazi-esque scare tactics make Child 44 worth seeing in your spare time. Just don't waste your money on it. It may piss you off knowing that you just contributed some of your money to a fifty-million dollar production that couldn't do anything right, except for Tom. We love you Tom! (insert gay joke here) Note to the studios; If you have an intriguing script for a film that should be a best picture contender, hire someone appropriate to the task to direct it, and not some guy who came in second place to direct the Assassin's Creed movie.
Rating- 5 out of 10
Rating- 5 out of 10
Running Time- 137 Minutes
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