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Film / Child 44

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Child 44 is a 2015 mystery thriller film, based on the novel by Tom Rob Smith, which was loosely based on the real-life murders by the "Rostov Ripper". It was directed by Daniel Espinoza and stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel, Paddy Considine and Mark Lewis Jones.

Leo Demidov is a Soviet war hero and member of the Ministry of State Security (MGB). When the child of his friend is found brutally killed by the train tracks, the State officially declares the death an "accident"; for you see, murder is only a capitalist disease and thus would never happen in the USSR. After a series of similar deaths occur in the surrounding area, it becomes quite clear that they are dealing with a serial killer. Demidov, however, takes it upon himself to solve these crimes, even as the State tries to sweep it under the rug.

This Film Contains Examples Of:

  • Arc Words: "There is no murder in paradise."
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Leo and Raisa have a rather strained relationship through much of the movie, but they eventually grow to care for one another, work together to solve the mystery surrounding the dead children, and end up adopting two children at the end of the film.
  • Believing Your Own Lies: No Soviet official is willing to admit that a murderer is on the loose, because the USSR is paradise and "there's no murder in paradise."
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The serial killer and Vasili.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The serial killer, and the parents of the two young girls at the beginning of the film.
  • Call-Back: Early in the film, Vasili executes the parents of two young girls, much to Leo's dismay. At the end of the film, Leo and his wife find the two girls and adopt them.
  • The Cameo: Charles Dance appears at the end as an official of the MGB.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Anatoly, and later Leo, are given Truth Serum and tortured for information. Some of the characters acknowledge that the method is not reliable.
  • Commie Land: Takes place in the Russian SSR. The opening briefly shows the Ukrainian SSR.
  • Chummy Commies: Leo Demidov, Alexei Andreyev and General Nesterov would qualify.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Leo tells the authorities that the serial killer was responsible for Vasili's death, while also claiming that Vasili was a hero and saved their lives.
  • Determinator: Leo. Exiled, demoted, tortured, attacked and almost killed while he can barely stand and then forced to jump off a moving train afterwards so none of the other passengers can finish the job, and he still manages to track down the killer responsible for the deaths of the young boys. After all of that, he gets stabbed in the side during the climatic fight, and still gets back on his feet to finish Vasili.
    • Raisa qualifies as well, as she endures everything that Leo endured and doesn't leave his side.
  • Death of a Child: Young boys are disappearing and turning up dead with no explanation.
  • Dirty Communists: The main characters are all members of the Soviet internal security forces. However, Vasili and the Greater-Scope Villain Major Kuzmin really fit into this.
  • Dirty Coward: Vasili, see The Neidermeyer below.
  • Double Speak: Alexei Andreyev eventually agrees to go along with the party line that his son died in a tragic accident, not a murder.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Implied, but subverted. After witnessing the aftermath of Alexander's suicide, Leo is shown drinking from a bottle down by the railroad tracks that night, but shortly after, he reveals to Raisa that he's actually worked out that the murders are connected and is trying to figure out how to prove it.
  • Eye Scream: When they're attacked on the train, Raisa claws at the eyes of one of the men attacking Leo.
  • Fake Pregnancy: Raisa tells Leo that she's expecting a baby so that he won't denounce her.
  • Forceful Kiss: One of the thugs on the train kisses Raisa while holding her at knife-point. She responds by biting his lip, ripping away viciously (drawing blood), and then headbutting him in the face.
  • Freudian Excuse: The killer is an orphan, like Leo, and was traumatized by his experiences in the orphanage.
    "You knew what you were doing and you chose to do it. But me? I can't help it. I can't."
  • Gayngst-Induced Suicide: Homosexuality is a crime in Russia; Alexander, the young ticketmaster, steps in front of a train the day after being forced to give up the names of several other homosexuals.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Major Kuzmin, as he is Vasili's co-conspirator and superior.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: At the end of the film, Leo worries this has happened to him but Raisa reassures him that it hasn't.
  • Inspiration Nod: The scene of Alexei's son playing by the train tracks by laying a coin and some spoons on them for the train to run over, with it then being revealed he's already in the presence of the killer, is extremely similar to a scene from Citizen X, another movie based on Andrei Chikatilo.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: All of the characters speak Russian accented English.
  • Meet Cute: Subverted. This is what Leo thinks their first meeting was, and that Raisa only gave him a fake name because she was being coy. She doesn't tell him until years later that it was actually because she could tell he was MGB and she was terrified of him.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Vasili, see The Neidermeyer below.
  • Mud Wrestling: Non-Fanservice example. During the final fight, Leo and Vasili roll down a hill and then continue struggling in the large puddle of mud at the bottom. Raisa gets in on the action shortly after.
  • The Neidermeyer: Vasili, especially in the World War II opening in which, in contrast to the courageous and valorous Leo Demidov, who actually fought in the Reichstag, Vasili just hides away from combat. Then when the action shifts to 1953, Vasili attempts to abuse his power of authority by inflicting brutality to anyone that opposes the Stalin rule, such as Vasili's execution of the little girls' parents much to Leo's dismay.
  • Rank Up: Averted. After catching the killer, and killing Vasili, Leo is offered a new senior position in state security, with the potential for political advancement. He declines, and instead asks to be placed in charge of the Moscow homicide unit.
  • The Reveal: Raisa drops several in one scene. First she tells Leo that she's not expecting a child. Then she tells him that their "Meet Cute" was a nightmare for her. Then she tells him that the only reason she agreed to marry him was because she was afraid of what would happen to her if she refused. He looks devastated by the end of the scene.
  • Say My Name: Leo yells Vasili's name twice during the climatic fight scene, apparently for no other reason than to help the audience keep track of which extremely mud-splattered character is which.
  • Serial Killer: The killer drugs his victims then drowns them through waterboarding.
  • Secret Police / State Sec: The MGB (the predecessor to the KGB), whose job is to find people whose loyalty is in question.
  • Sherlock Scan: Raisa deduces that one of the MGB agents at the train station in Moscow is unable to read, simply from observing him for a few moments.
  • Smug Snake: Vasili.
  • The Sociopath: Vasili. He's ready to kill his former colleague and anyone who opposes the Stalin regime just to make career. He also never shows care for the children murders.
  • The Starscream: Vasili. After taking away Leo's house and job, he takes pleasure in hunting down his former MGB colleague, who he sarcastically calls "my big brother", when he and his wife are labeled fugitives from justice, all to gain his own glory like Leo got his during the Second World War.
  • Suicide by Cop: Averted. Anatoly tries this with Leo, but Leo refuses to shoot him, so Anatoly steals his knife and tries to disembowel himself instead.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When at the end, it is stated that the serial murderer was actually a Nazi agent (since obviously no Soviet citizen could do such things unless subverted by the enemy), Leo is willing to concede, so long as it means the authorities admit other such "agents" may exist, and he has the freedom to investigate cases of them "going active".
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Vasili calls Raisa a bitch while punching her in the face.
  • Token Good Teammate: In contrast to the heartless brutality of most of his comrades such as Vasili, Leo is moral and sincerely good-intentioned in his duty as an officer. Also see Chummy Commies above.
  • Tragic Villain: The serial killer.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Narrowly averted. After witnessing Anatoly's attempt to disembowel himself during their struggle, Leo rolls over and heaves violently in front of the camera, but manages not to puke.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: The cast's Fake Russian accents sound nothing like Russians speaking English.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The premise of the film.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Vasili shoots Alexei in the back after learning where Leo likely went.