Sunday, January 22, 2012


2011, PG-13, 111 min.
IMDB says... A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

The 73rd Virgin says... Daughter and I were kicking around recent movies we might want to see, but then she went back to school early and left me and the wife alone with this. It starts promisingly with teenaged Saoirse Ronan (the creepy kid sister in Atonement and the unlikeliest prison camp escapee in history in The Way Back) out in a frozen forest hunting a reindeer. She drops it with one shot, almost, and commences to field dress it at which point we discover that, unlike other ungulates, caribou are filled with what appears to be dry smoked sausage. Anyway, her father (Eric Bana) sneaks up on her and announces she should be dead at which point they fight and she almost breaks his neck.  We then get some back story about why he has been raising her in a cabin 60 miles from the Arctic Circle. Soon they decide she is ready and they activate the transponder that they know will bring a shitstorm of special force baddies to their cabin. Father and daughter split up and she kills several of them.

With this bracing intro, I’m settling in for a good action flick with likable actors, and a decidedly different take on The Bourne Identity and Le Femme Nikita.  My disbelief is suspended and I’m ready to be led. For a while it lives up to these hopes with an interrogation in an unlikely underground BSL3 laboratory in Morocco that turns into another blood bath, but then the Chemical Brothers crank up the untze-untze soundtrack and Hanna escapes through tunnels filled with lights that appear to be there for the sole purpose of flashing arhythmically.

She then meets a hilarious dysfunctional British family who take her across to Spain. The movie spends a good deal of (entertaining) time developing Hanna’s friendship with the pop culture-infused daughter only to leave the entire family as a garishly dangling elephant-in-the-room-style loose end.

Along the way she is pursued by Cate Blanchett, she of a thousand roughly similar American accents, and the always entertaining Tom Hollander as a caricatured German assassin who bleaches his hair and wears too-short shorts or pastel sweat suits. Her father, meanwhile, is pursued by more or less the same people, and we begin to track the decline of the movie from this scene where he manages to find the only unoccupied subway station during a Berlin afternoon rush hour and takes out 6 secret agent men who approach this legendarily dangerous man with guns holstered until it's too late.

From here it’s a long slow slide to a dramatically genericized chase through generic European art house locations culminating in a generic “boss fight” (the Virg had to learn the vernacular from his vidya’-gaming wife) and that’s about it. It finally sinks to the point that Hanna is walking around a deserted carnival (filled with more flashing lights) and looks out the window directly into Blanchette’s leering face. To paraphrase Ebert, this kind of scene requires us to believe that the bad guy had to be standing at the window for minutes or hours just waiting for the hero to look.

The movie goes from an entertaining re-imagining of a genre to aping the dullest forms of the same genre in about 45 minutes. Too bad.

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