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Child 44 Review

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Soviet secret police agent Leo Demidov (Hardy) refuses to denounce his own wife, Raisa (Rapace), as a traitor. Sent to the boondocks as punishment, he sets about solving a crime the state doesn’t want to acknowledge: a series of child murders near railway lines.

★★★★★

Set in 1953 Russia, this Soviet serial-killer whodunit is appropriately Stalinesque: boring, brutal and bigger than it should be. Safe House veteran Daniel Espinosa’s blood-stained take on the bestselling novel by Tom Rob Smith is not only over two hours long, but chock-full of Borat-worthy bad accents that make its stellar cast – Hardy, Oldman, Rapace, Vincent Casell, Paddy Considine and Joel Kinnaman – feel like Rooskie robots. Notable for the least sexy sex scene of 2015 and a mud wrestle for the ages, this overwrought thriller is a pedestrian period piece that squanders its potential.

While an eye-catching call sheet saves it from the movie gulag, this unfortunately so-so adaptation of a far richer novel does feel a little like the cinematic equivalent of eating your bodyweight in kasha.

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