There is something powerfully enigmatic, hypnotic about the deftness of Tom Hardy’s artistry; he is a chameleon, from demon to divine his every role is a revelation: beleaguered soldier in “Band of Brothers”; evil incarnate as “Bane” in “The Dark Knight Rises”; smoldering, darkly romantic “Heathcliff” in Wuthering Heights”; skewered savant in “The Drop”; he soared in the minutely seen “Locke”: “Ivan Locke”, a man so principled, he selflessly leaves his comfort zone, at unimagined financial and personal peril, he abandons the known and follows the road of righteousness; a supreme tour de force; travesty that a performance of such magnitude was overlooked by the Academy.
“Child 44” references children doomed to “come of age” in the ubiquitous orphanages throughout starving Russia in the mid-twentieth century; it is now 1953 and “Leo” (Hardy) a war hero, so entrenched, ingrained in communist ideology that he is the quintessential foil, puppet, of a morally unscrupulous government; Leo is an officer in the MGB (State Security Forces) married to exquisitely lovely “Raisa”, (Noomi Rapace in her finest portrayal since “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”); when he refuses to denounce Raisa, a teacher who harbors hatred for a smothering, restrictive society where “trust” is anathema and spying, denouncing, murdering defines an ordinary citizen’s claustrophobic, paranoid existence; they are deported to a region where ugliness reigns and Leo reports to “General Nesterov” (Gary Oldman). As a trinity they blend efforts to find a serial killer; a depraved man who kidnaps and butchers young boys; communism proclaims to be paradise, where there is no murder.
“Child 44” written by British author Tom Rob Smith is part of a trilogy and the ambitious five hours of footage had to be amputated, leaving gaps in believability but still a pulsating thriller, achingly profound love story and portrait of what occurs when a population is stripped of its ingenuity, scripted into roles fashioned by limited minds, stunted moral compass; where a limited few, annihilate creativity, sovereignty of the ill-fated majority .
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!