Tom Hardy’s tenacious secret policeman hunts for a child murderer amid the paranoia and terror of Stalin’s Soviet Union.

Get past some contrived plotting – and the needlessly thick Russian accents adopted by the mostly British cast – and this adaptation of Tom Rob Smith’s bestselling 1950s-set crime thriller is grimly fascinating.

Hardy’s officer, Leo Demidov, winds up in exile after refusing to denounce his wife (Noomi Rapace), yet doggedly persists in his pursuit of a serial killer of young boys – an extremely perilous business in a state that denies the existence of murder, a supposedly ‘capitalist disease’.

Viewed as a thriller, director Daniel Espinosa’s film is sluggish but, as a portrait of a society warped by fear and ideology, it is genuinely compelling – and Hardy is excellent, too.