Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Child 44 Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
After a friend's son is found dead, Soviet secret-police officer Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) suspects his superiors are covering up the truth. When Leo dares to raise questions, he is demoted and exiled to a provincial outpost with his wife (Noomi Rapace). There, Leo soon discovers other mysterious deaths with similar circumstances and convinces his new boss (Gary Oldman) that a deranged serial killer is on the loose-and must be stopped before he strikes again in this electrifying thriller.

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
Ministry of State Security (MGB) agent Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) has been tasked with notifying the family of a young boy that he has been killed. The young boy, happens to be Demidov’s godson. The boy’s parents, understandably distraught, argue with Demidov as he reads the official report. The fact that their son is listed as being fully clothed alerts the boy’s mother to the fact that her son was not killed by a train, and was not in fact clothed. She realizes that the report would not have mentioned him being fully clothed unless it was a lie.

Leo begins asking questions leading to his demotion and reassignment to the town of Volsk. His wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) is accused of disloyalty and accompanies her husband in his exile. Leo discovers other similar deaths and works to convince his new commander General Nesterov (Gary Oldman) of the crimes. With the assistance of Raisa and Nesterov’s wife Seleyse, they reveal that the killer has claimed at least 44 victims.

Based on the international best selling novel. Child 44 is a serial killer thriller set in the Soviet Union in the 1950s, which is a well acted, but very dark film. I haven’t read the book, but with material this depressing I think I would prefer it that way. The filmmakers clearly worked very hard on the accuracy of the time period and locations, costumes and accents are spot on. It obviously includes murder, but also torture and misery at every turn. There is a lot going on with this film and each detail is more upsetting than the last. You’ve got to be the type of person that can handle a film this tragic. If you’re looking for the fun type of thriller (the type to make the audience jump in their seat and have a fun scare), then this is not the film for you. My favorite films are ones I can watch repeatedly but Child 44 is not a film I plan to revisit.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Child 44 is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in a 2.40:1 ratio. Child 44 has an intentionally bleak appearance with a constant gray tone. Because it is so dark you lose a lot of shadow and detail but it works to sell the time period.
Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Child 44's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 focuses most of the action on the center channels. The opening battle scene carries some weight to it. Later environmental sounds and overall ambiance is good. The score adds a lot to the mood (which isn’t good) but doesn’t overpower the film.
Extras (1 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray contains a theatrical trailer and only the following supplemental feature:
  • Reflections of History: Recreating the World of Child 44 (8:18) – A brief featurette with interviews and discussion about the set design and production.

Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Child 44 contains some great performances. For someone who regularly watches other depressing flicks like Seven, the thrills just aren’t enough to make me want to revisit this film. I may read the novel and recommend the film with the clarification that this isn’t your typical serial killer thriller.

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