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TOM HARDY & NOOMI REPACE IN CHILD 44

year: 2015 rating: **
If you think American-set crime flicks like SEVEN are gruesome, depressing and hopeless, prepare for two full hours of torture that often feels like getting bitten by a cobra snake in hell... Death upon death, as it were. And that’s not really strange since CHILD 44, taking place in Russia after World War II, is deliberately morbid and futile i.e. the uncomfortable shoe fits.

Enter Tom Hardy's rugged war hero, Leo Demidov, who eventually decides to hunt down a psychotic "phantom" mutilating young boys between Moscow and other small cities: one dark factory town in particular where Leo is sent for not “selling out” his wife, Raisa Demidov, played by Noomi Repace. The couple travel around by train – the tracks wind through forests where exterior shots capture gorgeous scenery between the bleak, prison-like locales. And it takes well over an hour before the actual investigation begins... not an easy task in Russia where armed officials remain in strict denial of any problems. A decade after the war, and Hitler's still being blamed.

The performances fall short of the talent on board, also including Gary Oldman and Vincent Cassel in somewhat wasted roles. The direction, while not by producer Ridley Scott, mirrors his Neo Noir vibe, intense close-ups and action sequences that put you rolling and tumbling in the often dizzy pandemonium. But the most intriguing aspect... the search for the killer... is hindered by sluggish reality as the actors, using distractingly thick Russian accents, are still speaking English – making CHILD 44 only halfway genuine, and even less entertaining.
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