For What It's Worth

Monday, April 25, 2011

Movie Review: Double Feature - Source Code & Hanna

Source Code
Source Code
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Screenplay: Ben Ripley
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction/Action 

Review: Source Code stripped down to it’s essence is basically a sci-fi version of Ground Hog Day.
I really had no interest in seeing it but was persuaded by my friend Tiger’s review. I’m glad I went - it turned out to be a fun movie.
Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a train, next to a girl who calls him Sean and seems to know him but he has no memory of her.  For 8 minutes he tries to figure out what the heck is going on and then whoosh.....there is an explosion on the train and then he wakes up in uniform, strapped into what appears to be a capsule.
A woman, Goodwin (played by Vera Farmiga) starts speaking to Stevens through the capsules video screen informing him that he is in a virtual exercise and it is his mission to go back in time to find out who planted the bomb on the train. He cannot prevent the attack or save anyone on the train from their fate but he can prevent a future dirty bomb attack in the middle of Chicago.
Colter tries to piece together who and where he really is. He goes from the capsule back to the train for 8 minutes each time. There are only so many times his body can handle the trip and while he frantically tries to find out who planted the bomb he also tries to find out what is reality and who is pulling the strings behind this elaborate plan.
What was good about Source Code is that even though you are reliving the same 8 minutes over & over, it is always from a new perspective with new information. When he is sent back to the capsule and questions Goodwin he actually gets answers. It’s in bits and pieces but they are there so I wasn’t left frustrated. Now ... you may not buy into the plausibility of some of those answers but they are given. I for one just went for the ride because it was plausible enough and moved at a quick pace. There were a few hmmmm that doesn’t make sense moments but again, I was able to pass them off.
Jake Gyllenhaal is perfect as the everyman. He pulls off being a soldier but not a super hero quite well. He makes a few mistakes but is determined to change the course of events and do the right thing no matter the personal cost to himself.
Michelle Monaghan as Christina is effective as a potential love interest and you root for them even though they just met. The love aspect doesn’t get too carried away which helps too. Monaghan plays what I call the generic brown haired girl (GBHG). Almost every movie has one these days. The recognizable male lead paired with a capable but interchangeable, brown haired, actress.  
Overall a good sci-fi thriller with a bit of a hollywood type ending.
Rating: 3 out of 4 

Directed by: Joe Wright
Screenplay: Seth Lochhead and David Farr
Music: The Chemical Brothers
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett
Rating" PG-13 Violence and Profanity

If I could use one word to describe Hanna it would be “stark”. For the first two thirds of the movie everything is stripped down the essentials. Just pulse pounding music and shots that could be freeze framed at any time to make a spectacular photograph.  
Hanna has spent most of her life being raised by Erik (Eric Bana), in the hostile woods of Finland. He has trained her to be a ruthless assassin knowing one day she will be ready to take on Marissa Wiegler (Kate Blanchett) the woman who killed her mother. He has not only relentlessly drilled her in survival skills but Hanna is book smart also - speaking fluently in several languages. His goal is to try to make Hanna as skilled as possible when she enters the world without him to protect her.
I say tried because despite all of Erik’s good intentions and relentless training Hanna is ill equipped to be in the real world. He sends Hanna out into the world with the intention of meeting up with her once she accomplishes her task. She may know how to break someones neck or infiltrate a top secret facility but she doesn’t know how to socially interact with normal people. Hanna can rattle off a stream of facts with near military name is Hanna...I go to such and such school, my dogs name is spot, but to carry on a conversation with another child? She has no clue.
The contrast between Hanna’s quiet winter wonderland in the woods and her arrival in the modern world is striking. Even though the woods were harsh, she’s comfortable there. In the modern world she is overwhelmed by the television, lights, a phone ringing - pretty much everything. This leads to a few lighter moments of which there are very few.
The film lagged, IMO anyway, for the last third of the movie. Once there are other characters involved it slipped into your standard action movie. There was something visceral when it was just Hanna and one or two other people. What seemed really engrossing with the driving beat of the music started to get on my nerves near the end. By the last 15 minutes the director tightened things up again and we get our answers to the mysteries presented and the promised standoff between Marissa and Hanna which felt a little forced but I would still highly recommend it..
Note: The beginning is awesome and it kind of reminds me of how I envision what The Hunger Games movie should be. A young girl with a bow hunting in the forest.
Rating: 3 out 4 Good acting and unique movie.


  1. oh I those sound like good movies and thanks for the reviews.

  2. Totally gonna see Hannah just cos it's set here, yay

  3. I don't know if I was as satisfied with the way Hanna ended. I was waiting for more of an explanation on the "experimental babies" or something. It just seemed like any kid with the sheltered life and training she got could have been her without the DNA thing. So why was the DNA thing not explained more. Plus, how could she not save the only father she ever knew. Agh!

    And LOL about GBHG! Seems like Michelle Monaghan is always playing that role.

  4. Love the Source Code review! And the generic Brown Haired Girl made me laugh.

  5. I loved Source Code! Great movie. I haven't heard of Hannah but after your review I'm !

  6. @Missie - I wouldn't say I was satisfied with the ending but I could live with it. I was confused by a few things with the "babies" but my DH totally got everything so I thought it was just me I thing the first half was so much stronger, I wish they had stayed with that style. But overall I liked it.

  7. My family saw Hanna over spring break, and I quickly regretted bringing my daughters to see it (they are aged 14 and 11). It is far more violent than I expected, considering the protagonist is a teenager. My kids are not wimps, but this one made me turn away.

    I did like the unusual cast of characters, the setting, and the pace -- which made it unlike your normal Hollywood flick. However, I thought it fell apart in the end with numerous plot holes. I kinda would've like to rewrite the ending.

  8. @Dianne - definitely not a movie for young children. I was really let down by the second half but I still liked the first hour enough to recommend it.
    The ending felt rushed whereas the first half was so deliberate it seemed. It was kind of "oh yeah - we have to hurry up and explain this stuff"

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