Hanna

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Hanna

Not for children.
Run time 111 minutes.

Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan in “Hanna.”

Hanna (Saiorse Ronan) is a teenager raised in the Arctic by her father, Erik (Eric Bana), to be the perfect assassin. She is cold-blooded and courageous. When he allows her to go out into the world, it is with a specific target: to assassinate Marissa (Cate Blanchett).

Like all good thrillers, she gets into impossible situations, but she’s up to the task. All the while, though, she’s as much in the dark as the audience. Why is she doing these things? Why are all these government people after her?

Ronan gives a fine performance as the violent Hanna, as does Bana as her equally deadly father. Adding to the mischief, Blanchett — generally a good guy — is a satisfyingly hateful villain.

Ronan’s performance elevates this above a Bourne-type action film that is all action and no acting as she comes of age while she’s pursuing and being pursued. That Joe Wright could direct such a well-paced, entertaining adventure is a huge surprise because his background includes such yawners as Atonement (2007) and The Soloist (2009). He’s aided by a pretty good script (Seth Lochhead, whose script and story were apparently rewritten — or at least doctored — by David Farr), terrific cinematography (Alwin H. Kuchler) — especially the Arctic scenes that start the movie — and music (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons as The Chemical Brothers). Also coming in for high praise is the editing (Paul Tothill). A chase thriller like this lives or dies on the quality of the editing; there isn’t a minute when the tension lapses.

There is quite a bit of violence, including a relatively graphic scene of a deer being shot. If you can put up with it, this is a highly entertaining film.

Arthur

Run time 110 minutes.
Not for children.

Russell Brand is “Arthur.”

One of my least-loved movies is the Dudley Moore version of Arthur (1981). Drug-loving Hollywood nominated this despicable film several Oscar® nominations and awarded one to John Gielgud as Best Supporting Actor, even though the film lauded alcoholism as harmless fun.

One way to tell if a film is going to be horrible is if the trailer has such little confidence in the film that it shows all the good lines. The trailer makes it look as if this is going to be a laugh riot. I wondered if they just showed every good line in the movie and it was going to be horrid. The answer is in: There are far more laughs in the two-minute trailer than there are in the 110 minute movie. In fact, I only smiled once, having already seen all the jokes. Surprisingly, the lines that seem funny in the trailer fall flat in the movie, and it’s not because one is hearing a joke for the second time. The jokes don’t seem to fit into the context of the film.

Directed by rookie Jason Winer, this one substitutes Russell Brand for Moore, Helen Mirren for Gielgud, Greta Gerwig for Liza Minnelli and Jennifer Garner for Jill Eikenberry as the hateful Susan; and an extraordinarily weak anti-alcohol ending for the “alcoholism is a lot of fun” ending of the original. The result is a film that is not even half as many laughs as the hateful original. Brand gives his all, but he can’t live up to Moore’s version. The only cast member who adds much to the film is Mirren, and she’s not called on to do much acting. Her regal presence makes the rest of the inferior cast look even weaker. The look on her face appeared as if she kept asking herself, “What am I doing here with these people and this material?”

Brand is a terrific interview and he’s been the only saving grace in the deplorable films in which he has previously appeared: Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) and Get Him to the Greek (2010) — both productions of smutmeister Judd Apatow — in which he played the same character, drug-addled rocker Aldous Snow. In those he was a supporting actor. Here he’s the star and is clearly not up to carrying an entire movie — at least with this weak material. That the material is weak should not be a surprise since the script was written by Peter Baynham, who was responsible for Borat (2006) and Bruño (2009), both of which defined mindless obscenity, substituting vulgarity and shock value for humor.

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