Tag Archives: Gary Oldman

Darkest Hour (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

DARKEST HOUR

Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Anthony McCarten
Stars: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn

Darkest Hour is set during the early days of the second world war. The fate of Great Britain hangs on the newly appointed Prime Minister Winston Churchill who must decide whether or not to negotiate with Adolf Hitler or fight against incredible odds.

Gary Oldman is playing Winston Churchill? Gary Oldman? The Gary Oldman? yes it is That Gary Oldman and what a performance by him.

I love historical movies and in particular the second world war ones that delve more into the characters of the war. Sure some folk have said this film compliments the recently released Christopher Nolan epic second war film “Dunkirk” released last year and vice versa. Yes the events in “Darkest Hour” are based around the events of Dunkirk but this movie is more character driven and gives us an insight into the pressures of one man against not just the Nazis but his own party who had little faith in him. Not comparing by any means but this is similar to the 2006 movie “Downfall” a more ground level character based story in amongst the chaos and as I said don’t think for one minute I am comparing Winston Churchill to Adolf Hitler. I’m comparing the way the story is based more on the man rather than the army.

Going back to Gary Oldman and his physical appearance in this movie is staggering to say the least. His performance and delivery are always going to be the most important elements to any actor but the look of him in this movie is equally as important and I don’t normally say that as performance should overshadow the cosmetic side of acting but it is essential here as Director Joe Wright loves a good close up and to be fair Gary Oldman spent over 200 hours in makeup undergoing a radical transformation that necessitated ‘fattening’ his body with prosthetics weighing half his own weight and this is thanks to the Makeup Department.

What I found fascinating was the different relationships Churchill has with certain characters in this movie and how he changes depending on the person. His interactions with Elizabeth Layton (James) are very tense at first and Oldman portrays a very uptight and angry man easily frustrated with incompetence and nervousness around him. On the other hand, his slightly sheepish nature around Clementine Churchill (Scott Thomas) shows another softer side to him that displays his much needed support from Clementine and in turn her strong willed persona in front of her Husband. Both Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas are enjoyable to watch and every scene they are in is intriguing and actually humorous at times.

The relationship of King George VI (Mendelsohn) and Churchill is also an interesting one. Mendelsohn’s performance is rather subtle and underplayed in comparison to Colin Firth’s portrayal in “The King’s Speech” The personal and political relationship between both men during the conflict is one that has been largely overlooked throughout history, yet the trust and loyalty these men both shared helped Great Britain navigate its perhaps most trying time and thankfully this is there in this movie. Oldman and Mendelsohn portray their characters in this spirit and their scenes are very well done.

As I said, Director Joe Wright seems to revel in close up action and it works in Darkest Hour. The heavy dialogue and intensity of the situation is aided by the facial expressions and reactions of the actors. You can sense their emotions in every scene thanks to Wright’s style. His previous work relied on this in Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina and also worked well in these movies.

Darkest Hour should be viewed with an open mind. Do not go into this with your own political baggage or personal view on Winston Churchill. This is the story of one man and his vision and stance against large odds, not only against a fascist regime but also his own party doubting his morals and decisions in the country’s hour of need. I personally enjoyed this movie because of the plot, the acting and the stakes involved. Oldman has to be nominated for an Oscar on this performance and I will be very surprised if the English actor is overlooked once more. The supporting cast add so much more to the story and James, Scott Thomas and Mendelsohn are as equally important in their roles.

I have been a fan of Gary Oldman for such a long time now and I will be surprised if he doesn’t win an Academy Award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill. He thoroughly deserved the accolade. For me Darkest Hour is Unmissable.

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The Space Between Us (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

THE SPACE BETWEEN US

Director: Peter Chelsom
Writers: Allan Loeb (screenplay by), Stewart Schill (story by)
Stars: Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Carla Gugino, Janet Montgomery, Britt Robertson

“The Space Between Us” was released earlier this year and I’ve finally gotten around to viewing this movie. The story is about the first human being (Gardner Elliot played by Asa Butterfield) born on Mars and living there throughout his childhood into early adulthood and being raised by a bunch of scientists lead by Nathaniel Shepherd (Oldman) and Kendra Wyndham (Gugino) after his mother Sarah Elliot (Montgomery) who was part of the voyage’s crew sadly dies during labour.

When the scientists at East Texas come up with a procedure that solves some of the physical challenges Gardner would encounter in Earth’s gravity, those at Shepherd’s company who always wanted Gardner to have his chance to visit Earth finally prevail and Gardner is prepared for his first trip from the Mars to the Earth. Gardner embarks on an adventure with his Earth friend Tulsa (Robertson) to discover who he really is and who wants nothing more than to come to earth and track down his natural father with Shepherd and Wyndham on their pursuit to bring him back to their secure compound after he escapes.

One thing that struck me right away was the performance by Butterfield. Already an established actor at the tender age of 20 already having appeared in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008) as Bruno and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2010) it’s fair to say we were in safe hands with Butterfield’s performance as Gardner. His portrayal of the character is gentle but at the same time humorous and determined. His subtle movements on his first outing on Earth has to be seen as he adjusts to Earth’s gravity. His dialogue is out of place too as he tries to blend in as a normal teenager.

Playing Tulsa is  Britt Robertson who was terrific in Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (2015) as Casey Newton and reminds me a lot of Danielle Panabaker for whatever reason. At the age of 27 is excellent as the rebel Tulsa is more seasoned actor than Butterfield but is convincing in playing a teenage role. Tulsa doesn’t realise that she is Gardner’s only earth contact and never knew the truth of his upbringing on a planet that he doesn’t exactly explain well either.

Gary Oldman is more in a supporting role in “The Space Between Us” as Nathaniel Shepherd and although it appears he is doing his utmost to keep Gardner and his identification under wraps and confidential from the world. He is actually concerned about Gardner’s health and physicality on Earth. Oldman is his usual focused self and although not exactly the villain of the movie, his character helps the pacing of the film move along at a decent rate on the heels of Gardner.

Carla Shepherd as Kendra Wyndham is similar in her screen time and purpose in “The Space Between Us” like Gary Oldman’s Nathaniel Shepherd. The difference being Kendra although the professional shows a more caring side and compassion for Gardner. Gugino plays the character almost as a step-mother to the boy and her performance and in particular with her scenes with Oldman are solid and the character Wyndham is a match for Shepherd. I’ve been a fan of Gugino since her role in Watchmen as Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre and expected big things for the actress after the release of that movie. I don’t want to say “Sadly” but most of her roles have been television work since 2009, so I was pleased to see she had a prominent role in “The Space Between Us”

“The Space Between Us” reminded me of 1986’s “Flight of the Navigator” and as I previously mentioned 2015’s “Tomorrowland: A World Beyond” The visuals are stunning and are a joy to witness. Chelsom’s vision of a drama and humorous movie is well balanced and executed correctly. The cast seem to work well together and although Oldman in particular is the biggest star in the film it is Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson who steal the show and the deserved praise for their portrayals in “The Space Between Us”. This movie is creative and touching and for that I recommend this movie highly.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) Movie Review by John Walsh

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa
Stars: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke

Having discussed the film recently in our podcast, I thought I’d do a more extensive retro review of the 2014, blockbuster release, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes from director Matt Reeves.

The film picks up ten years on from the events seen in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and following the pandemic of the ALZ-113 virus, it would be fair to say that things haven’t went well for humanity. Their numbers are greatly reduced and they’re separated into various small colonies with commodities and power proving to be scarce. Their last stand, if you will, plucky resistance and refusal to be wiped out by the Simian flu is all that is stopping the apes from taking over completely.

Indeed, as the name suggests, much of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes focuses primarily on Caesar and his leadership. Both him and his group of increasingly intelligent primates have built an extensive settlement, carved out a self sufficient existence in the woodland not far from San Francisco. They have a basic education system in place and a wonderfully intelligent verbal and sign language mix communication.

All is well, but it’s not long before their peaceful existence is disturbed when a small group of humans led by Malcolm (Jason Clark) run into two scouting apes. Things go awry to say the least when Carver (Kirk Acevedo) develops an itchy trigger finger and shoots one in panic, invoking the wrath of the entire colony down upon them. Caesar (Andy Serkis) being a stern, but highly intelligent and ultimately compassionate leader warns them off sending a few apes to follow.

Trouble is, the scouting team where heading into the hills to inspect and try to kickstart a hydroelectric plant back into life. With their limited power supplies only a week from running out, this is their only chance of potentially restoring full power to the city, preserving their way of life and opening up communications with any distant survivors. Which explains the frankly moronic decision by Malcom to return with his family and a few others to try and reason with Caesar. After informing Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) of the incident, amidst much panic and agitation, and also getting a visit from the Apes shortly afterwards in an impressive show of strength to ram home the stay clear message, they come to the conclusion that they must try and convince the charismatic Caesar into allowing them access to the dam anyway.

That’s really the superficial premise of the story. It focuses on the initially uneasy relationship between Caesar and the the small party of humans led by Malcolm. With their admiration, friendship and common purposes both growing and becoming apparent as the story progresses. Whilst alternatively showing the other side and ideology of the formers rival Koba (Toby Kebbell), his deeply set hatred of humans, what he believes is weakness from his leader and desire for conquest. On the human side of this ideological divide is Dreyfus. He’s not quite as blinkered by sheer hatred as the tortured Koba, but puts out a call to arms nonetheless with self preservation and an untrusting attitude towards the Apes ever present if slightly hidden to begin with.

In terms of acting in this film. There’s a quite a few very good showings in a strong ensemble performance and one truly great performance. Andy Serkis is utterly incredible as the conflicted, charismatic Caesar. He displays a range of emotions throughout, from beautiful tender moments and sadness to flashes of anger and frustration. He acts with his eyes, his body and the few words he properly speaks are powerful. This man is the mo cap master and a genuine great of our times in that regard. Jason Clark has the meatiest role out of the human characters and is generally very good. I enjoyed Gary Oldman’s relatively short time on the screen, whilst the brilliant Toby Kebbell was excellent as the villainous Koba. An honourable mention must be given to Kodi Smit-McPhee’s portrayal as Malcolm’s son Alexander too.

The visuals were phenomenal from the opening shot onwards. Little details like the Apes coats matting in the rain were captured beautifully. I actually forgot that I was looking at CG characters after a while such was the quality of the visuals and the soul and emotion the actors imbued each of them with. Disputes being beautiful, they thankfully never defined the film. Whilst Michael Giacchino’s score is great for the most part too.

I particularly liked the way this film had slow paced, deathly silent, tender moments before bursting into explosive action. The final forty five minutes pretty much transformed into a pure action film when Koba wrestled control of the colony after shooting Caesar, framing the humans for it and waging war upon them.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a pretty clear political allegory with connotations to the recent conflicts in Libya and Iraq springing to mind. It’s also about conflict both within Caesar himself and more generally between Ape and Human with two distinct ideologies fighting for superiority. Thankfully Caesar is more pure of heart than his real life counterparts and chooses to remain faithful to his beliefs when faced with inner conflict and the realities of life after rebellion, even if it does mean contradicting his mantra of Ape not killing ape to escape turning into the very thing their human captors were.

Ultimately, I loved this film. It had everything really, including an intelligent story to compliment the visuals and action. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anybody that hasn’t had the chance to see it. You won’t be disappointed.

Raging: 4/5.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

DARK KNIGHT RISES

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan (screenplay),  Christopher Nolan(screenplay)
Stars: Christian Bale,  Tom Hardy,  Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman

The Dark Knight Rises is the concluding part of the Dark Knight Trilogy by Christopher Nolan released in 2012. Four years had passed since the epic The Dark Knight left fans of the franchise satisfied and flabbergasted and although we wanted more I think deep down we all knew this couldn’t be topped.

I previously mentioned in my last review that in 2008 I felt it should have ended with The Dark Knight as I felt that instalment couldn’t be matched never mind surpassed. By 2012 I was interested to see where “Rises” could take us and to be fair I never went into the IMAX theatre thinking this was going to be better than it’s predecessor. In fact my expectations were contained for the time being.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Is The Dark Knight Rises better than The Dark Knight or Batman Begins? Of course it isn’t. Is it a bad film? Of course it isn’t. Is its conclusion satisfying to the audience? Well…..perhaps. (I’ll come to that)

Before this review grows arms and legs I’m not going to compare this movie with its previous instalments any further as I feel it’s unfair and to be honest, it’s a pretty great film when you isolate it from the other two.

Christopher Nolan has a real knack of throwing the audience right into the thick of it and here is no exception. The opening shots of the aeroplane flying over a beautiful landscape (partially Scotland I may add) gives us the big reveal on who the villain is this time and Tom Hardy’s “Bane” is a force to be reckoned with. Hardy packed the pounds on to “fill” the role and really looked a menacing figure with the famous breathing apparatus but with a slightly peculiar voice. If fans moaned about Batman’s voice previously then a lot of justification on the criticism of the voice effect on Bane’s mask was correct. Again on a first time showing you may miss some dialogue because of this and I admit I struggled at times. Having viewed this movie several times it is fair to say that some of Bane’s lines are easily quotable now and again, we as fans just love to nitpick don’t we?

8 years have passed since Harvey Dent was murdered and Batman took the blame for this event in hope that Dent’s “White Knight of Gotham” would give the people hope and remembrance on what Harvey stood for. Since that night Bruce Wayne became a recluse (with a limp and a cane, due to injuring himself) and hung up the Bat Cape. With a fund raising function at Wayne Manor Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) poses as a maid who under the strict instructions of Alfred is to deliver dinner to Bruce’s quarters with a key to access a room leave the tray and leave immediately. That wasn’t going to happen as Selina had other plans in breaking into Bruce Wayne’s safe. Although we are lead to believe that she is after Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace, she is in fact after Bruce Wayne’s finger prints.

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle is never mentioned as “Catwoman” throughout the movie but it is heavily hinted through newspaper clippings “The Cat Burglar Strikes Again” etc. Also the wardrobe for the character is similar that to a cat complete with goggles that double up as little cat ears when placed on top of her head. Hathaway really excels in this role and is a far cry from her role in “The Devil Wears Pravda” Selina is hard, cold and knows exactly what she wants and warns Bruce that a storm is coming. Hathaway really fits into Nolan’s Dark Knight vision and it’s fair to say she was perfectly cast in the role as witnessed in those opening scenes for her character.

Bruce Wayne really took a step back in The Dark Knight compared to Batman Begins (sorry I’m not comparing, honestly I said I wouldn’t do that) but The Dark Knight Rises is drawing from the origins of Batman Begins when it is revealed where Bane came from and what his plan is for Gotham and Batman. If the Joker physiologically tormented Batman, Bane’s intents were physically. Bruce Wayne having been in seclusion for so long and pointed out by Alfred wasn’t the same person he was. Alfred’s concerns for Bruce where heartfelt and feared Bruce becoming Batman again because Bane’s stature and more so his training with “The League of Shadows”

The Dark Knight Rises takes us on a journey on Bruce Wayne’s spirit and will and how this character must rise to take on Bane. I’m not going to detail keys sequences for anyone who hasn’t watched this movie but the scenes in the “pit” really is where the key to where Bruce was physiologically and where he was physically also.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was an excellent addition as Blake to the already superb cast and carried those composition sequences perfectly. The character of Blake is key to the movie and is the connection between all of the characters, you could say the character is the master of ceremonies and has a fitting set up at the end of the movie that Christopher Nolan threw in there for the fans which although is a little cheesy is a nice touch and leaves us wondering “what next for this character?”

In summary this movie was never going to top the previous sequel but surprisingly links more to Batman Begins and bookends the Trilogy perfectly. On the whole Christopher Nolan gave us a near perfect Trilogy which is an achievement after the last incarnation (Batman and Robin (1997) left a bad taste in fans mouths. Spanning 7 years from beginning to end showed the commitment from the director and now having been involved and adding input into the DCU’s version as an executive producer highlights his fondness for the character and cares enough to still be involved although Ben Affleck’s “The Batman” is again another take on the character. For fans it’s a pleasure to revisit the Nolan Trilogy and for me I can’t recommend it enough. Thank You Christopher Nolan.

The Dark Knight (2008) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

THE DARK NIGHT

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan (screenplay),  Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale,  Heath Ledger,  Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy

Christopher Nolan really did leave us hanging at the end of Batman Begins (2005) with the Jim Gordon / Batman scene at the very end teasing the audience with the “has a taste for the theatrical, like you. Leaves a calling card.” with what we could look forward to in the next instalment of “The Dark Knight Trilogy”

Within those three years slowly but surely little pieces of information began to leak online on who would portray “The Joker” and it’s no great secret that when Health Ledger was announced it caused a bit of backlash amongst the fans that hadn’t been seen since pre-internet days of Tim Burton’s announcement that Michael Keaton was portraying Bruce Wayne in the 1989 version of the caped crusader. In fact, we as fans still haven’t learned our lessons for in 2013 a similar backlash happened with the announcement of Ben Affleck taking the Wayne mantel in the upcoming sequel to “Man of Steel” that would soon becoming title “Batman Versus Superman”

We need not worried as most folk know about Ledger’s now iconic portal of “The Clown” and more importantly the tragedy surrounding the actors untimely death on 22nd January 2008 aged 28, six months before the premier of “The Dark Knight”

The hype and publicity surrounding the release of the movie in the summer of 2008 probably would have tainted the movie in a way that with all the publicity into Ledger’s death may in fact leave a massive shadow hanging over the sequel. Going into the theatre to watch the follow up to Batman Begins, any fear of this was put to bed within the first 10 minutes of the movie as we watched a bank heist taking place and The Joker’s reveal was straight to the point was also shocking as we see and hear this portrayal say “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you stranger” the theatre may have been in complete darkness but you couldn’t sense the audience rubbing their hands knowing what was in store for the next couple of hours.

One thing I noticed and have always applauded Christopher Nolan for was the focus is taken away from Bruce Wayne in the movie. Batman Begins was always about Bruce Wayne and the development of that character so much so they didn’t give us one of the “main” villains in the opening instalment (although The Scarecrow was excellent) as the Director was in every sense rebooting the franchise. In “The Dark Knight” this was never going to be the case. Here we saw a man “Who just wanted to watch world burn” in The Joker and also we see the Rise and Tragic Fall of Harvey Dent who went from “Gotham’s White Knight” to “Two Face” gradually and even more so tragically.

The pacing of this movie is something that has always impressed me, from those opening IMax designed shots moving over the city to the end is so consistent and the tone never changes although there are some lighter tones of dialogue, particularly with Bruce and Alfred or Bruce and Lucius Fox but overall the darkness of the film accompanies the audience throughout its duration.

Christian Bale did receive a little flak for his Batman “voice” in this movie and I can understand that on the first viewing you might miss a few of his lines due to his voice but overall it really is just nitpicking as Bale’s Wayne is really finding it difficult to deal with a man who has no plan and has nothing to lose. Also his portrayal of the billionaire’s personal life an in particularly the relationship between him and Rachel Daws continues to develop. The actor again shows us all why he was cast as Bruce Wayne in the first place and barely puts a foot wrong throughout.

Health Ledger as previously mentioned, it is very difficult to say where after this performance would have taken him. Receiving posthumously an Oscar for best supporting actor in his portrayal of the The Joker was bittersweet and heartbreaking as his performance was up there with the best of them and to this day his lines are still as memorable as they were 9 years ago. Ledger takes the character in a different direction from previous incarnations of the legendary villain. Not as much theatrics or parlour tricks but a more edgier and gripping portrayal is witnessed as the actor turns “The Clown” into a really disturbing figure that even the “Mob” fear.

Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. Could I think of anyone else to portray the new DA in Gotham? Well no. In fact I don’t think Eckhart has come close to reaching these heights before or since this movie was released. Eckhart’s performance matches Christian Bale’s scene for scene and the character gives Bruce Wayne hope that the day of Batman being Gotham’s saviour is coming to an end, much to the delight and relief of Wayne. Eckhart’s performance is terrific is his almost whiter than white portrayal of a good man wanting to better his city and rid Gotham of the disease that was slowly dragging it back down to the days of Falcone. Eckhart’s “turn” is almost as tragic after losing everything becoming “Two Face” I have to admit I was excited when it was announced that “The Joker” would be the villain in this instalment, but admittedly I was concerned that having Two Face in there too may be a little overkill. My fears were put to bed after the first viewing of the film as the handling of the character was more sympathetic and tragic than the out and out villain of the movie.

Again the supporting cast of Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy was very similar to Batman Begins with all these characters playing their parts for the right amount of time and used correctly. Even Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holms for the part of Rachel didn’t really distract in anyway and that’s down to good writing and obviously the acting of Gylenhaal who had a larger part to play than Holms did in Batman Begins.

Overall this movie is perfection and I didn’t think Batman Begins could be topped if I’m being honest. The tone of this film is trademark Nolan and Hans Zimmer’s collaboration with James Newton Howard is a piece of art itself adding to the already darker tones and adding to the feel and texture of the movie. As most of you know this is the middle part of the trilogy, but I couldnt help but feel at the time how this movie would be equalled or bettered with a concluding part to it as in 2008 I really felt this movie hit the Dark Knight’s peak and I have to be honest and say in 2008 I didn’t want another one after this as I did regard this as a masterpiece and anything after it would be inferior. If you haven’t seen this movie yet I can’t recommend it enough as it is in my all time top 5 movies to see.

Child 44 (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

CHILD 44.png

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writers: Richard Price (screenplay),  Tom Rob Smith (novel)
Stars: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace

“There is no murder in paradise”

Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman reunite (The Dark Knight Rises (2012) in Child 44 and have them top bill a Russian serial killer movie.

Child 44 is not the movie it could have been. It has the story (based on the best-selling novel by Tom Rob Smith) It has the talent in Hardy, Oldman and Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Prometheus) and even supporting actors Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and Paddy Considine (Dead Mans Shoes (2004), all the right ingredients are there for a great movie. Unfortunately the movie isn’t engaging enough and the subplot distracts the audience from the main plot about solving a serial killer case.

Leo Demidov (Hardy) an orphan is raised by a Russian family and is drafted into Army during World War II. A few years after the war, Leo who is now a captain and married to Raisa Demidov (Rapace). Along with his best friend Alexei Andreyev (Fares Fares) and the unpredictable and ambitious Vasili Nikitin played by Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad) join the MGB during the regime of Joseph Stalin.

Leo, Alexei and Vasili are looking for Anatoly Tarasovich Brodsky (Clarke) who is on the run from the MGB is tracked down after some intense interrogation scenes to a farm ran by a family with two young girls, who deny Brodsky is there or even know him. As Leo, eventually finds Brodsky making a run for it Leo catches up with him as they exchange blows.

Whilst in the midst of this Vasili has the family on their knees and shoots both the man and woman in the back of the head in front of their traumatised young daughters. Leo is too late to get back to stop Vasil’s actions and is furious with him. It’s in these scenes we get an idea of the kind of character Leo is. He was orphaned himself and from Hardy’s facial reactions you can see this still haunts Leo, regardless of his position with the MGB. The scenes also gives us indication the kind of job he has to do on a daily basis.

Tom Hardy is the star of the film through and through. It’s a story about his family life and professional life clashing over the case of Alexei’s child’s dead body. When his son is found murdered completely naked near the railway, the official explanation is that the boy was hit by a train since there is “no murder in paradise” since that is seen as a capitalist disease.

But Leo finds other similar cases and proceeds investigating, falling in disgrace with the Party. The officials want to pass it off as a train accident, but witnesses swear that it was murder. As more and more bodies start turning up and the hierarchy continue to look away, it’s up to Hardy to find the killer and bring him to justice.

The only issue with this movie is the way it’s presented. Part of the movie is focused on the serial killer storyline and the other half is about the Soviet Officials exiling his family and stripping him of power for his disobedience in his latest investigation. He has lost his rank and is transferred with Raisa to Volsk to work with General Mikhail Nesterov played by Gary Oldman.

When another boys body is found near the railway in the same conditions of Alexei’s son, Leo convinces Nesterov that there is a serial-killer on the loose and he agrees that Leo conducts a further investigation. It’s the way these two stories intertwine that is messy and in my opinion not executed that well.

Child 44 is a film with a promising storyline, great performances (although we see Russians talking to each other in English for some reason I can’t explain) but not engaging enough in my book. Which left me slightly disappointed and if it hadn’t been for Hardy’s solid performance I probably would have given up with this movie half way through.