Tom Hardy has had a massive last few years. He’s been in a lot of films and shows in the last few years, and he’s been impressive in all of them. So of course I was going to check out one of his latest, in the form of Child 44. Child 44 features another strong performance from Hardy (which is a given at this point) but suffers from direction and a screenplay that doesn’t make the most out of a vast plot that covers a lot of topics.
Child 44 follows Soviet war hero Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) as he tries to hunt down a serial killer in a nation where serial killers are not supposed to exist. As he angers an ambitious officer (Joel Kinnaman) and his burdened wife (Noomi Rapace) becomes suspected of being a capitalist sympathizer, the walls close in on Leo’s attempts to find the killer.
There is a lot to like about Child 44 on first glance. The film is clearly filmed on location and the craftwork put on display here is quite effective. The noir elements may be a little too heavy at times, but this is a world that is both interesting and unique. Unfortunately, the world isn’t given an interesting story. There is some interesting topics discussed (such as the values of communism) but they aren’t given room to breath in a storyline that gets caught up in too much and unveils itself a little too conventionally. It also doesn’t help that director Daniel Espinosa has little control over the elements of the film and can’t arrange them in a cohesive manner.
It also doesn’t help that outside of a few performances the cast is completely wasted. Strong actors such as Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke come and go without leaving much of an impact. At the very least Tom Hardy gives a sturdy performance at the film’s center. Hardy gets to try on another accent (which it seems he has become a master of) and is able to make a somewhat stale character interesting on the edges. Also giving a performance of note is Joel Kinnaman as one of the main antagonists of the film. Kinnaman displayed a lot of potential in The Killing, and it seems this is the first film to even attempt to make good use of his interesting persona.
Child 44 reveals an interesting setting and features a talented cast but most of that is squandered thanks to a poor script and a lack of direction.