Child 44 Movie Review

It takes a talented cast and compelling source material to make a film like Child 44. But this dreary Soviet-era serial killer thriller starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace never quite adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

It may have worked as a book, but movies are better served by a more focused approach. Child 44 tries to examine too many things: Soviet corruption and brutality, a husband’s fight for his integrity, and nail biting suspense.


The movie’s cast is impressive and features Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman. The movie is based on the book by Tom Rob Smith and is directed by Daniel Espinosa. The script by Richard Price is a boilerplate tale of a heroic officer going against the grain, being framed and ultimately vindicated-but the Cold War setting adds some extra layers. Jon Ekstrand’s by-the-numbers score uses pounding timpani for exciting scenes and mournful violin solos for sad ones.

It’s a fascinating story, but the movie never really lives up to its potential. Despite a great cast, Child 44 never quite captures the terror of life in 1953 Soviet Russia. The movie also strays from exploring its political thriller layers and settles for a Russian-accented CSI episode at times.


Director Daniel Espinosa’s gloomy film veers from the depths of Tom Rob Smith’s lurid source novel, but he manages to keep us engaged with his cast. Especially Tom Hardy, who delivers a mesmerizing performance as Leo Demidov, a good policeman caught in the sleazy web of his country’s brutal final days.

Based on a true story about a series of disturbing serial murders in Stalin’s Soviet Union, Child 44 takes us to an industrial hellscape where ruthless behavior is the norm. Its underlying political messages are more profound than the murders themselves, as the movie shows how fear and paranoia erased any sense of trust. And it offers a fascinating glimpse into an era where everyone is out for themselves. Even the innocents.


The flixtor film has a great cast with top performances from Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman and Noomi Rapace. The direction is taut and the production values are superb. However, it fails to captivate the viewer as a thriller. Its overstuffed plot and slow pace make it tedious to watch.

Adapted from a book by Tom Rob Smith, Child 44 is a bleak portrait of Soviet corruption and paranoia. The story revolves around a series of child murders and the manhunt for a killer. Leo Demidov (Hardy) is a top-ranking member of the secret police who tries to keep his conscience clean in this cynical and lurid Catch-22.

Director Daniel Espinosa’s impressive cast and period-setting scenery enliven this grim, page-to-screen adaptation of the acclaimed novel, but the movie never achieves its potential as a taut thriller.


A top-notch cast and a gripping plot based on true events make Child 44 a promising drama. But director Daniel Espinosa can’t overcome a dull script that devolves into boilerplate story elements. Jon Ekstrand’s by-the-numbers score — pounding timpani for exciting scenes, mournful violin solos to underscore sadness — contributes to the film’s overall flatness.

Despite its sprawling plot, the movie does captivate when it focuses on idealistic State Security officer Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy). He’s battling his own moral conflict while tracking a serial killer in a nation where murder officially doesn’t exist.

Safe House and The Drop director Daniel Espinosa can’t match David Fincher’s intensity, but he delivers a solid thriller. The supporting players, especially Joel Kinnaman, are also strong. The film’s gloomy color palette and dishwater-gray scenery help to set the bleak tone.


While the cast is strong, Child 44 is a disjointed movie with many loose ends. It tries to be both a serial killer thriller and an old-school anti-Soviet propaganda flick. However, it fails to deliver on either front. Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and Gary Oldman bring strong performances to this drama set in the twilight of Stalin’s rule. The gloomy production design and cinematography add to the overall feeling of doom.

A solid, if not entirely original, adaptation of Tom Rob Smith’s 2008 novel about Leo Demidov’s investigation of child murders in a nation where “murder” is illegal. Daniel Espinosa’s film lacks the momentum of a thriller and veers into melodrama. It also focuses too much on the detective’s empathy, which saps some of the tension.