Forget that director Daniel Espinosa and producer Ridley Scott couldn’t seem to find any real Russians to act in key leading roles in the film, instead hiring a mostly English international cast with strong thesping credentials in previous projects. This cartoonish portrayal of 1953 Soviet Russia in the year that Stalin died is, as I say in my video review above, a throwback to the paranoid portrayals we saw of that country throughout the Cold War.
It seems archaic in many ways but the 1998 book by Tom Rob Smith on which it is based was a best seller and that’s what hooked Scott. He had planned to direct himself until hiring Espinosa, of Sweden,( thus making an even bigger melting pot of creatives from anywhere but Russia for this very Russian story).
Authenticity, along with the original language, has been thrown out in favor of a broader thriller in which World War II hero Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) loses his status as a powerful KGB police agent. He is forced to out his own wife, Raisa (played by Noomi Rapace, another Swede, seen in Scott’s Prometheus) when she is accused of treason.
Hardy’s nemesis, a psychotic officer named Vasili (Joel Kinnaman) is pursuing the couple, who are banished to the dreariest place in Russia, Despite their exile, however, they join General Nesterov (Gary Oldman) in secretly investigating a series of murders of young boys that the Soviet system is trying to cover up because, after all, “there is no crime in paradise.” It gets more convoluted, and more than a bit repugnant, from there.
The script by the talented Richard Price is loosely based on real-life serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. Producers are Scott, Michael Schaefer and Greg Shapiro for Scott Free Productions in association with Worldview Entertainment. Summit Entertainment is distributor.
Do you plan to see Child 44? Watch my video review and let us know what you think.