Child 44 (film)

Last updated

Child 44
Child 44 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Daniel Espinosa
Screenplay by Richard Price
Based on Child 44
by Tom Rob Smith
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography Oliver Wood
Edited by
Music by Jon Ekstrand
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • 17 April 2015 (2015-04-17)
Running time
137 minutes
Countries
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Czech Republic
  • Romania
  • Russia [2]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$50 million [3]
Box office$13 million [1]

Child 44 is a 2015 mystery thriller film directed by Daniel Espinosa, written by Richard Price, and based on Tom Rob Smith's 2008 novel of the same name. The film stars an ensemble cast featuring Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Jason Clarke, and Vincent Cassel. It was released on 17 April 2015. [4] Both the novel and the film are very loosely based on the case of Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo. [5] The film was a box office bomb, grossing just $13 million against its $50 million budget.

Contents

Plot

During Stalin's rule of the Soviet Union in the early 1950s, Ministry of State Security (MGB) Agent and war hero Leo Demidov uncovers a strange and brutal series of child murders. MGB leadership refuses to acknowledge the deaths as murders, however, because Soviet doctrine states that only capitalism creates serial killers. The son of Leo's partner is murdered by the serial killer, and during Leo's investigation, his wife, Raisa, is accused of being disloyal to the state. Leo suspects that his amoral and ambitious enemy in the MGB, Vasili Nikitin, is behind the charges. Leo refuses to support the accusation, and he is forced to take a demeaning militia position in the town of Volsk. Raisa accompanies him and must work as a janitor.

In Volsk Leo meets his new commander, General Nesterov. Meanwhile, Vasili calls Raisa and attempts to persuade her to leave Leo and join him in Moscow. When she refuses, Vasili orders a local MGB man to abuse her. Raisa later admits to Leo that she only agreed to marry him because she feared what would happen to her if she refused a high-ranking member of state security.

More child murder victims are discovered in Volsk, and after Leo tells Raisa that he suspects a serial killer, she decides to help his investigation. Together they convince Nesterov and his wife, Inessa, that the deaths must be investigated as serial murder. Further investigation reveals that the killer has claimed at least 44 victims and that he is traveling the rail lines to find his targets.

Leo and Raisa travel in secret to Moscow to interview a woman who reported seeing the killer. The interview does not bear fruit, however, and to escape possible pursuit by the MGB, they seek out Raisa's former colleague. However, during the meeting Raisa discovers that the colleague is an informer, and Leo kills him. Leo tells Raisa that she can leave him if she wishes, but she says that she wants to stay with him.

Leo and Raisa return to Volsk, but there they discover that Vasili and his men have pursued them for killing the informer. They are arrested and interrogated, then put on a train to a work camp. During the train ride, they are attacked by killers at the order of Vasili; after killing their assailants, Leo and Raisa jump off the train. They trek to Rostov, where the highest concentration of the serial killer's victims has been found; they reason that the killer must work close to the rail yards there.

In the Rostov tractor factory, Leo identifies the killer by cross-referencing worker travel with the location and date of the murders. Leo and Raisa corner the killer, who surrenders to them. However, the killer is suddenly shot in the head by Vassili, who has followed Leo and Raisa. Vassili tries to execute them, but after a vicious struggle, they kill Vassili. Leo cleverly tells the MGB agents who arrive that the serial killer killed Vassili and that he then shot the killer. Because the serial killer was a POW in German camps, the MGB is able to (falsely) explain away his actions as those of a Nazi agent.

Leo is reinstated in Moscow; despite being offered a promising political position, he instead asks to create and lead a homicide division in Moscow. Leo and Raisa adopt two orphan girls.

Cast

Production

Principal photography began in June 2013 in the cities of Prague, Ostrava and Kladno in the Czech Republic, and continued in Romania. [6] For the brief scene in the Moscow underground, the Prague metro was used. It was the first time in its history that it was shut to the public. [7] [8]

Ban in some former USSR republics

On 15 April 2015, the Russian film distributor Central Partnership announced that the film would be withdrawn from cinemas in Russia, although some media stated that screening of the film was blocked by the Russian Ministry of Culture. [9] [10] [11] The decision was made following the press screening the day before. The Ministry of Culture and the Central Partnership issued a joint press release stating that the screening of the film before the 70th anniversary of the Victory Day was unacceptable. [12] The Ministry of Culture claimed that it received several questions on the film's contents, primarily concerning "distortion of historical facts, peculiar treatment of events before, during and after the Great Patriotic War and images and characters of Soviet people of that era". [12] Russian minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky welcomed the decision, but stressed that it was made solely by the Central Partnership. However, in his personal statement Medinsky complained that the film depicts Russians as "physically and morally base sub-humans", and compared the depiction of Soviet Union in the film with J. R. R. Tolkien's Mordor, and wished that such films should be screened neither before the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, nor any other time. [13] However, he also stated that the film would be available in Russia on DVD and online. [14]

The film was also withdrawn from cinemas due to distributor’s decision in Belarus, [15] Ukraine, [16] Kazakhstan, [17] and Kyrgyzstan, while release of the film was postponed until October in Georgia. [18]

Ukrainian film director and producer Alexander Rodnyansky criticised the decision not to release Child 44 as bad for the country's film industry. "Before, films where Soviet and Russian heroes were presented not in the best way have been released in Russia, but nothing similar happened. Now everything to do with history should clearly fit into a kind of framework set by the culture ministry." [19]

As the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were occupied by the Soviet Union and as members of the EU, they officially received the film release.

Reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, Child 44 has an approval rating of 27%, based on 82 reviews, with an average score of 4.82/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "There's a gripping story at the heart of Child 44 and a solid performance from Tom Hardy in the lead, but it all still adds up to a would-be thriller that lacks sufficient thrills." [20] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 41 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [21]

Writing in The Guardian , Peter Bradshaw gave the film 2 stars out of 5 and reported that "Tom Rob Smith's page-turning bestseller from 2008 has been turned into a heavy, indigestible meal of a film, full of actors speaking English with very heavy Russian accents – actors from England, Sweden, Lebanon, Poland, Australia, almost anywhere but Russia". Bradshaw added: "Tom Hardy brings his robust, muscular presence to the role of Leo and he is watchable enough, but the forensic and psychological aspects are just dull; there is no fascination in the detection process. […] Everything is immersed in a cloudy brown soup". [22] Also in The Guardian, reviewer Phil Hoad wrote: "Child 44 has a fascinating premise and setting [but] failed to convincingly package this as either an upscale thriller along the lines of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy , as implied by a powerhouse cast also featuring Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace and Paddy Considine; or as something racier à la The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Gone Girl (indeed, the film itself falls awkwardly between these two stools)". Hoad added, "[a]s for the debacle over the Slavic-slathered English spoken by the entire cast, it further highlights the uncertainty about whether Child 44 was intended for the multiplex or the arthouse. Presumably a decision made to placate the former, opting to turn the film into an Iron Curtain version of 'Allo 'Allo damaged its integrity. Aren't we past this kind of cultural bastardisation? It is possible for foreign-language films to cross over: The Lives of Others , which meted out its own totalitarian intrigue in German, took $66m overseas – the kind of cash Child 44 will never see". [23]

In The Observer , Jonathan Romney found, "In writer Richard Price's boil-down of the labyrinthine original, the whodunit loses all momentum" adding that "the whole thing is scuppered by having everyone speak in borscht-thick Russian accents" before concluding that, "[the film is] shot in several shades of Volga mud and drags like a Thursday afternoon in Nizhniy Novgorod". [24]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andrei Chikatilo</span> Soviet serial killer (1936–1994)

Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo was a Soviet serial killer nicknamed The Butcher of Rostov, The Rostov Ripper, and The Red Ripper who sexually assaulted, murdered, and mutilated at least fifty-two women and children between 1978 and 1990 in the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR, and the Uzbek SSR. Chikatilo confessed to fifty-six murders and was tried for fifty-three of them in April 1992. He was convicted and sentenced to death for fifty-two of these murders in October 1992, although the Supreme Court of Russia ruled in 1993 that insufficient evidence existed to prove his guilt in nine of those killings. Chikatilo was executed by gunshot in February 1994.

The "Doctors' plot" affair was an alleged conspiracy of prominent Soviet medical specialists to murder leading government and party officials. It was also known as the case of saboteur doctors or killer doctors. In 1951–1953, a group of predominantly Jewish doctors from Moscow were accused of a conspiracy to assassinate Soviet leaders. This was later accompanied by publications of antisemitic character in the media, which talked about the threats of Zionism and condemned people with Jewish surnames. Following this, many doctors, both Jews and non-Jews, were dismissed from their jobs, arrested, and tortured to produce admissions. A few weeks after the death of Stalin in 1953, the new Soviet leadership said there was a lack of evidence regarding the Doctors' plot and the case was dropped. Soon after, it was declared that the case had been a fabrication.

The MGB, an initialism for Ministerstvo gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti SSSR, was the name of the Soviet state security apparatus dealing with internal and external security issues: secret police duties, foreign and domestic intelligence and counterintelligence, etc. from 1946 to 1953.

Sonny Ola Rapace Jawo is a Swedish actor best known for playing Patrice in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.

Vicky Jewson is an English screenwriter, producer and film director.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alexander Pichushkin</span> Russian serial killer

Alexander Yuryevich Pichushkin, also known as the Chessboard Killer and the Bitsa Park Maniac, is a Russian serial killer who is believed to have killed at least forty-nine people, and possibly as many as sixty, between 1992 and 2006. Pichushkin was active in Moscow's Bitsa Park, where a number of the victims' bodies were found. In 2007 he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Operation Priboi was the code name for the Soviet mass deportation from the Baltic states on 25–28 March 1949. The action is also known as the March deportation by Baltic historians. More than 90,000 Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, labeled as "enemies of the people", were deported to forced settlements in inhospitable areas of the Soviet Union. Over 70% of the deportees were either women or children under the age of 16.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tom Rob Smith</span> English author, screenwriter, producer (born 1979)

Tom Rob Smith is an English author, screenwriter and producer.

<i>Child 44</i> 2008 thriller novel by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44 is a thriller novel by British writer Tom Rob Smith. This is the first novel in a trilogy featuring former MGB Agent Leo Demidov, who investigates a series of gruesome child murders in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serhiy Tkach</span> Soviet-Ukrainian serial killer

Serhiy Fedorovich Tkach, also known as Sergey Tkach, was a Russian police officer and serial killer who was convicted for the killings of thirty-seven women and girls in the Soviet Union and Ukraine between 1980 to 2005.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Noomi Rapace</span> Swedish actress (born 1979)

Noomi Rapace is a Swedish actress. She achieved international fame with her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish film adaptations of the Millennium series (2009): The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. For her performance in the Millennium series, Rapace won amongst others two Nymphe d'Ors, a Guldbagge Award, and a Satellite Award as Best Actress, and was nominated for a BAFTA Award, an International Emmy Award and a European Film Award. Following the success of the Millennium series, Rapace has gone on to star in American movies.

<i>The Secret Speech</i> (novel)

The Secret Speech is the second novel in a trilogy by British author Tom Rob Smith; it was released in April 2009. The book features a repeat appearance of Leo Stepanovich Demidov, the protagonist of Smith's first book, Child 44 (2008). The Secret Speech is a further exploration of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin created. The third novel in the trilogy, Agent 6, was published in 2011.

<i>The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest</i> (film) 2009 film

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest is a 2009 Swedish-Danish crime thriller film with German co-production directed by Daniel Alfredson from a screenplay by Ulf Rydberg and produced by Søren Stærmose, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, the third entry in his Millennium series. Starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, it was the third and final installment of the film series, released two months following The Girl Who Played with Fire. It also marked the final film appearance of Per Oscarsson, who died in a house fire on 31 December 2010.

<i>Passion</i> (2012 film) 2012 film

Passion is a 2012 erotic thriller film written and directed by Brian De Palma, starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace. It is an English-language remake of Alain Corneau's 2010 thriller film Love Crime, but with the ending greatly altered. The film is an international co-production between France and Germany. The film was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 69th Venice International Film Festival.

Worldview Entertainment is an American independent motion picture company that finances and produces theatrical quality feature films for worldwide distribution. The company was founded in 2007 and is based in New York City. Worldview has produced films including Child 44, Birdman, Blood Ties, The Green Inferno, and Killer Joe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vasili Komaroff</span> Russian serial killer

Vasili Ivanovich Komaroff was a Russian serial killer, convicted for the killing of 29 people in Moscow between 1921 and 1923. One of the earliest known serial killers in the Soviet Union, Komaroff was a horse trader who murdered at least 33 customers in the stable next to his home, and was executed on June 18, 1923.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boris Gusakov</span> Soviet serial killer and rapist

Boris Vasilyevich Gusakov, known as The Student Hunter, was a Soviet serial killer convicted for the killing of 6 people in the Moscow area between 1964 and 1968. Gusakov, a serial rapist with a history of mental health issues, committed 6 murders and 15 violent sexual assaults on girls and young women before being caught, and was executed by firing squad in 1970.

<i>What Happened to Monday</i> 2017 dystopian science-fiction action-thriller film directed by Tommy Wirkola

What Happened to Monday is a 2017 dystopian science-fiction action thriller film directed by Tommy Wirkola and written by Max Botkin and Kerry Williamson. The film stars Noomi Rapace, Glenn Close and Willem Dafoe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nikolai Shestakov</span> Soviet serial killer and rapist

Nikolai Porfirievich Shestakov, known as The Luberetsky Maniac, was a Soviet serial killer and rapist, who worked as a truck driver.

<i>The Trip</i> (2021 film) Norwegian action comedy film

The Trip is a 2021 Norwegian action comedy film starring Aksel Hennie and Noomi Rapace. It was directed by Tommy Wirkola, who co-wrote it with Nick Ball and John Niven. It premiered on 30 July 2021 in Norway and appeared in the Fantastic Fest 2021 lineup in September the same year. It was internationally released on 15 October 2021 and is available for streaming on Netfix.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 "Child 44 (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  2. "LUMIERE : Search".
  3. Jonathan McAloon (12 November 2015). "2015's biggest box office flops". The Telegraph . Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  4. Yamato, Jen (18 February 2014). "Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace Thriller 'Child 44' Gets April 2015 Date". Deadline Hollywood . Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  5. Guttridge, Peter (1 March 2008). "In pursuit of a Russian Ripper: Tom Rob Smith tells how his tale of a Russian mass murderer sparked a furious bidding war". The Guardian . Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  6. "Filming of Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 begins". Curtis Brown . 6 August 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  7. "Ridley Scott Restricts the Metro". praha.eu.
  8. "Ridley Scott production takes over metro stations". The Prague Post. Archived from the original on 14 August 2015.
  9. Davis, Mark (15 April 2015). "Russia bans film adaptation of 'Child 44'". Euronews.com. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  10. Walker, Shaun (15 April 2015). "Hollywood's 'Child 44' pulled in Russia after falling foul of culture ministry". The Guardian . Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  11. Barraclough, Leo (16 April 2015). "Russia Bans 'Child 44′ for Portraying Soviets as a 'Bloody Mass of Orcs and Ghouls'". Variety. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  12. 1 2 "Совместное заявление Министерства культуры РФ и компании "Централ Партнершип"" [Joint Statement of the Ministry of Culture and the company "Central Partnership"]. Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation (in Russian). 15 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  13. "Заявление Министра культуры РФ В.Р.Мединского. К отзыву прокатной заявки фильма "No.44"" [Statement by the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation V.R.Medinskogo. To review the application of the film "No. 44"]. Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation (in Russian). 15 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  14. "Not in Cinemas, But 'Child 44' Will Be Available in Russia". The Moscow Times . 17 April 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  15. "Belarus bans Child 44 movie day after Russia". TASS . 16 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  16. "Hollywood movie 'Child 44' will not be shown in Ukraine". Ukraine Today . 17 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  17. "American film Child 44 banned in Kazakhstan for distorting history". azh.kz.
  18. Holdsworth, Nick (17 April 2015). "'Child 44' Ban Rolls Out Across Former Soviet States". The Hollywood Reporter . Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  19. Surganov, Elizabeth; Sobolev, Sergei (15 April 2015). "Голливудский фильм про СССР сняли с российского проката" [Hollywood movie about the Soviet Union withdrawn from the Russian market]. RBC (in Russian). Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  20. "Child 44". Rotten Tomatoes . Flixster . Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  21. "Child 44". Metacritic . Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  22. Bradshaw, Peter (16 April 2015). "Child 44 review – where did the thrills go?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  23. Hoad, Phil (22 April 2015). "How is Tom Hardy's $50m Child 44 such a totalitarian fail? : Off to the gulag". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  24. Romney, Jonathan (19 April 2015). "And the rest…: Child 44". The Observer (The New Review section). London. p. 29. Retrieved 23 April 2015.