Child 44: Some books aren’t meant to be movies

Screenshot by Will Nacouzi/The Skyline View

In a world of excess book-to-movie adaptations, it is becoming ever clearer that some books were never meant to be on film. “Child 44” could be considered one of those films.

Starring Tom Hardy as Leo Demidov, a soviet war hero turned disgraced secret agent who is desperately attempting to solve a chain of child murders in a country where murder “doesn’t exist.”

In terms of story, “Child 44” had a lot to work with. The first book from British author Tom Rob Smith had a lot going for it. Unfortunately, the story did not translate well to the silver screen. Some of the plot suffered from rewrites, changing how the story flows (and why certain relationships matter) and doing nothing for the daunting 137 minute run time. The issue here, unfortunately, is that the movie would never work without such a long run time; there is just too much story to cover. And yet it seems to drag on everywhere except the first 30 minutes, where it seems to rush through every character’s back story as quickly as possible. It feels much longer than it is, but it can’t be helped. Shortening it would only make the plot seem more convoluted and confusing than it already appears to be.

Sadly, the overwhelming plot is not the only thing dragging this movie down. The acting, for the most part, was shockingly troublesome. The only actor that managed to keep up a consistent accent (and character) was Tom Hardy. Every other member of the cast faltered at best and sounded Scottish at worst. They would have benefited from starting Russian and fading to English, much like 2008’s “Valkyrie.” But it is clear that Tom Hardy carried most of the film. His acting was by far the best, and he portrayed the character very well. Most of the cast seemed to be going through the motions, nothing more.

From sub-par acting to excess story, “Child 44” is a valiant attempt at adaptation, but it just doesn’t hit the mark. As a stand alone, it could be an okay film, but it certainly seems that, if you haven’t read the book, the movie won’t be easy to follow. Unfortunately, if you have have read the book, you won’t really want to follow it.