Child 44 - Blu-ray Review

'has several jarring elements that hint at directorial uncertainty'

After the fairly uninspiring Safe House, Chilean/Swedish director Daniel Espinosa's second attempt at making it big in Hollywood comes in the form of Child 44, an adaptation from Tom Rob Smith's novel, the first in a trilogy focusing on Russian military policeman/detective Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) and his wife, Raisa (Noomi Rapace).

If Safe House was already a stumbling start then this is certainly your atypical 'difficult second album'. Whilst Espinosa's first film suffered merely from being a bit flat, Child 44 has several jarring elements that hint at directorial uncertainty.

The most obvious is the choice to have all of the leads speak in English but with heavily inflected Russian accents. The approach can work but in forcing people like Hardy to adopt Russian sounds Espinosa loses something in the rest of the performance and makes broad gulfs between his players. The aforementioned Hardy for example, already primarily a physical actor, becomes entirely one, quietly mumbling his 'Russian', whilst Gary Oldman does what Gary Oldman normally does and throws absolutely everything at it, rolled 'r' sounds and all.

If the vocals are a little destabilising then the visuals are positively alarming. The worst offenders are anywhere with snow and the 'arse end of nowhere' featured in the film, which actually, you find yourself thinking, doesn't look too bad. It's a film without the dirt under its fingernails that it needs, meaning it comes off as a brightly-lit sub-TV Drama. Archangel, an actual TV Drama, did down-trodden Russia far better, all the way back in 2005.

The positives arrive largely towards the final third, after the completely over-loaded set of antagonists (including Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine and Vincent Cassel) have mainly been cast aside. The idea of a just-about-acknowledged policeman working to protect post-war Russia is a great one, but it is also one this film never really gives us.

Child 44 is released on UK DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 24th August.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

No comments:

Post a Comment