Certainly the pedigree of “Child 44” makes it seem promising.
Directed by Daniel Espinosa (“Safe House”) from a script by Richard Price, it features a sturdy, heavily British international cast led by Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Vincent Cassel and Noomi Rapace.
But the timing of the release – April, a pre-summer graveyard – and the fact that it wasn’t screened for critics until shortly before opening both mitigate against it.
Rightly so. After about an hour, “Child 44” runs off the rails into a swamp of plot complications which even a master like Price can’t dig his way out of. Too bad because, for the first hour, “Child 44” shows great promise.
It’s late Stalin-era Russia (always a lot of chuckles) and Hardy is Leo, an inspector in the MGB, predecessor to the KGB. A hero of WWII, he now is forced to do Stalin’s bidding, chasing down alleged spies to get them to rat out other alleged spies.
Then he is called in to handle a case of a child’s death, the son of one of his underlings. It’s obvious that, in fact, this wasn’t an unfortunate accident with a train but, rather, a murder.
Which presents a problem
This review continues on my website.