THIS investigative thriller set during Stalin's repressive era in 1953 put me to sleep halfway through it. It must have been the inconsequential subplots, slow pacing and haphazard juxtapositioning of
A familiar refrain in the film is "There are no murders in paradise". This is because the Russians then preferred to condemn their own citizens for treachery and send them either to their deaths or somewhere similar to Siberia. The authorities were overzealous in prosecuting trivial matters compared with hunting down serial killers.
And this is where investigative agent Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) comes in. He ran away from an orphanage as a kid, found a home in a Russian army officer's family and came to the forefront in battles against the Nazis in World War II.
He's committed to ferreting out traitors but he also has a kind heart, shown when he reprimands subordinate officer Vasili (Joel 'RoboCop' Kinnaman) for killing a married couple who had given shelter to a fugitive traitor. He even exhibits his soft side by arranging dolls in a suitcase for the couple's two daughters. How sweet.
Amid this oppressive atmosphere is the discovery of murdered boys. Leo the Lion's boss (Vincent Cassel) orders him to close the investigation quickly but the conscientious man wants to conduct a thorough probe.
His teacher wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) is then accused of treachery, and guess who's asked to study the rap sheet and bring charges against her? And because of his refusal to do so, both of them are shipped off to god-knows-where, where they meet General Mikhail (Gary Oldman).
So viewers can see the conflict between Leo wanting to get to the bottom of the murders and the authorities wanting to put a lid on his CSI enthusiasm. I can tell you that they won't care.
The flow is jarring and off-putting, and, finally, dull. I caught 40 winks and I believe I didn't miss a thing.
1 out of 5 stars