A disgraced member of the Russian military police investigates a series of child murders during the Stalin-era Soviet Union.


Daniel Espinosa


Richard Price (screenplay), Tom Rob Smith (novel)
3,442 ( 752)
2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Xavier Atkins ... Young Leo Demidov
Mark Lewis Jones ... Tortoise
Tom Hardy ... Leo Demidov
Joel Kinnaman ... Vasili
Fares Fares ... Alexei Andreyev
Karel Dobrý ... Photographer
Noomi Rapace ... Raisa Demidov
Agnieszka Grochowska ... Nina Andreyeva
Petr Vanek ... Fyodor
Jana Stryková ... Mara
Jason Clarke ... Anatoly Tarasovich Brodsky
Ursina Lardi ... Zina Gubinova
Michael Nardone ... Semyon Okun
Jemma O'Brien Jemma O'Brien ... Elena Okun
Lottie Steer ... Tamara Okun


Based on the first of a trilogy by Tom Rob Smith and set in the Stalin era of the Soviet Union. The plot is about an idealistic pro-Stalin security officer who decides to investigate a series of child murders in a country where supposedly this sort of crime doesn't exist. The state would not hear of the existence of a child murderer let alone a serial killer. He gets demoted and exiled but decides, with just the help of his wife, to continue pursuing the case. Written by Arnold

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


How do you find a killer who doesn't exist? See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, some disturbing images, language and a scene of sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


All of the uniform costumes were made for the film in Poland. See more »


The film is set in 1953, many of the soldiers are armed with AKM assault rifles. This rifle was not introduced until 1959. The soldiers should have had AK 47 rifles. See more »


[first lines]
Tortoise: Your father?
Young Leo Demidov: [yes]
Tortoise: Dead?
Young Leo Demidov: [yes]
Tortoise: What's your name?
Young Leo Demidov: I don't want it any more.
Tortoise: I'll give you a new one. Leo. Like a lion.
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Stenka Razin
Written by Slava Groc
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User Reviews

"Child 44" is a grim but fascinating police procedural that peaks behind the Iron Curtain into the paranoia and dysfunction of the U.S.S.R. under Stalin.
19 April 2015 | by CleveMan66See all my reviews

Sometimes it's tough to stand on the side of right. That's especially true when all those around you are more interested in perception than reality. And I don't just mean your family and your friends or your social circle. I'm talking about fighting against the abuses of power, corruption and cover-ups of an entire society. That's what Moscow-based secret police (MGB) agent Leo Demidov faces in the Soviet Union of the 1950s in British writer Tom Rob Smith's trilogy. The first book in that trilogy lends its title to the film "Child 44" (R, 1:37) and focuses on the real-life crimes of a Russian named Andrei Chikatilo.

Demidov is played by underrated British actor Tom Hardy. Hardy's character is a tough, but good man who wants to do what's right, but runs into a brick wall every time he tries. He's a cop in Stalin's U.S.S.R., a government that whisks away any citizen who expresses a point of view contrary to that of the authorities and holds fast to its denial of the existence of crime in their communist utopia. When the young son of fellow agent Alexi (Fares Fares) is murdered, Demidov is reminded that, according to Stalin, "murder is a capitalist disease." Or, as Vasili (Joel Kinnaman), Demidov's bitter rival within their secret police unit says, "There is no crime in paradise." As Alexi's friend and superior, Demidov is assigned to present the police report to the family. "Railway accident" is listed as the cause of death. Everyone, including Demidov, knows that this is a lie, but when the family argues with him about the official version of events all he can do is half-heartedly insist that they read the report. He pulls aside Alexi to tell him repeatedly that his son was not murdered. You can see how difficult it is for this talented investigator to deny his friend any hope of justice, but it's for Alexi's own good. Demidov knows that pursuing the matter any further would mean the end of both of their careers, or worse.

Demidov soon gets to experience an example of that "worse" for himself. When he finally takes an unyielding stand and refuses to toe the party line on another issue, he is demoted, and he and his wife, Raisa (Noomi Rapace), are basically exiled to a small town that is even bleaker than Moscow was for them. When Demidov is helping investigate the murder of another young boy, he encourages his new supervisor, General Nesterov (Gary Oldman), to investigate further. Nesterov soon discovers that there have been a total of 43 similar murders in the region. "44," Demidov corrects him. "My friend's son was murdered too." Nesterov does what he can within the confines of the Soviet legal system, while Demidov and his wife go well outside normal procedures in an effort to catch the killer. Vasili gets wind of what the Demidovs are up to and tries to use this to get his former boss out of the way for good.

"Child 44" is grim, but effective. The story is a disturbing but fascinating peek into life in the U.S.S.R. late in the Stalinist era. We get a look at the state of schools, orphanages, mental hospitals and even the treatment of homosexuals, but this film is mainly about the paranoia of a broken system which victimized its own people and allowed many criminals to go unpunished. The script is strong, but the acting is even stronger. Hardy plays Demidov as a confident and dedicated public servant who is barely holding the cork in the bottle of his righteous anger. Rapace comes off as proud and strong, but with a barely concealed vulnerability just beneath the surface. Oldman has been (and remains) one of the most talented actors of his generation and, anyone who remembers him as the terrorist leader in "Air Force One" (1997) can attest that the man knows his way around a Russian accent. Basically, this is the kind of movie you want to see if you're in the mood for a serious crime thriller which has the courage to approach the sub-genre of police procedural from a little-understood place in a nearly forgotten time. "B+"

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Czech Republic | UK | USA | Russia


English | Russian

Release Date:

17 April 2015 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Child 44 See more »

Filming Locations:

Prague, Czech Republic See more »


Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$621,812, 19 April 2015

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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