One of the main reasons I love Tom Hardy as an actor is he never plays the same role twice and isn’t afraid to take on roles no one would picture him in… like Leo in Child 44. The main premise of this movie is that in 1950’s Russia, murders don’t happen. The repeating phrase is, “There is no murder in paradise.” To call a death a homicide or worst still a serial killing is tantamount to treason. And that’s a problem because the son of Leo’s best friend gets murdered.
So what does he do? Ignore it and go along with the official view or keep digging to get justice for his best friend’s son? Well, I can’t tell you that because it would be spoiling, but add in plotlines about his wife and his position in the MGB (the precursor to the KGB) and you get all kinds of problems for poor Leo. In a nutshell, this is a movie (and book, apparently, which I really need to read) about loyalty. His loyalty to the State, to his wife, to his friend, and ultimately to himself.
One of the things I really liked was the matter of fact way Russia was portrayed. It wasn’t espousing or denouncing the way things were (are) at that time. It just was. The West didn’t (doesn’t) have a monopoly on good guys or assholes.
Gary Oldman, as ever, was outstanding. His role came further into the movie and was smaller than I’d expected from the previews, which was disappointing. Noomi Rapace was wonderful in her role as Leo’s wife. She was believable, sympathetic, and nuanced, achieving with a single glance and turning away of her head what I’d like to manage in my writing someday.
I will warn that if you’re looking for an action flick, this is not the movie to see. There are intense, but only brief, periods of violence. This is a drama. Really, it’s a character piece about Leo’s evolution and not one to be missed.