Mini-Reviews: Hanna, Source Code, Rubber

In an attempt to give readers my feelings on films as I plug away on a number of writing projects, I’ll provide mini-reviews to give my succinct opinion on films and to give me time to finish my other projects.


Hanna is not your average Hollywood thriller. It’s more like a German arthouse film disguised as a Hollywood thriller. Lots of long sections without dialogue, plenty of long shots and gorgeous cinematography, and a quirky script that always keeps you guessing. Its oddities might leave some audiences scratching their head, but I was laughing with glee at what director Joe Wright got away with. He took what could have been a boring Bourne-Identity-with-a-teenage-girl action romp and made it special. This is one of the best movies thus far in 2011.

Saoirse Ronan is the best young actor since Haley Joel Osment. She is immensely watchable, and her eyes are always focused, suggesting worlds of depth. The other performances are great too, especially Tom Hollander as a gay German short chubby assassin who sports bleached blond hair, track suits, and slip-on shoes. Sound weird? It is– blissfully so, never alienating, but always adding to the fun. The Chemical Brothers have an early lead for Best Score of 2011, providing a thumping score for a film in which music is an integral element: it tops Daft Punk’s electronic score from last year. Finally, every scene is gorgeous. Joe Wright’s trademark long shot here is a beaut, an exciting underground fight scene. So much of this movie had me giddy. Hanna’s a must-see.

Source Code:

After the terrific Moon, seeing Duncan Jones attack science fiction again is really a joy. He manages to inject overwhelming doses of heart into the lead characters, who usually in this genre are used as vessels for the audience– he has to observe and discover in wide-eyed wonder as we do. Wide-eyed wonder is really what Jake Gyllenhaal does best (October Sky, Brokeback Mountain), and this is without question his best “action role”: he’s not the type to go shirtless and kick ass while spouting one-liners, he’s cerebral and thoughtful. This is the perfect vehicle for him, and the movie works on the whole. It keeps us guessing, and the multiple directions the film unfolds in are exciting to watch develop… ** MILD SPOILER IN PARAGRAPH AHEAD **

… but this movie’s premise was destined to lead us to two places: either an ending in which Gyllenhaal dies or an ending in which he lives, gets the girl, and everything that we learned before the ending was wrong. And unfortunately, this movie chooses the “happy ending”: strange, I felt him fulfilling his destiny and dying after achieving perfection was in fact the happier ending. But I digress.
The movie works well enough on the whole that if you dig the premise, you’ll want to try to unlock Source Code. It has more heart than most sci-fi and has a great Gyllenhaal performance. Furthermore, the film is not what it’s advertised as: it’s not about a guy trying to save a girl– it’s SO much better in its premise than that. Misleading commercials are something I’d alter if I could dive into the source code.


The premise is simple: a rubber tire becomes sentient and discovers it has the power to telekinetically murder people. But the execution is anything but. Rubber, a film by French filmmaker Quentin Dupleux, is an experiment in meta cinema that makes you alternate between hysterical laughter and the realization that the movie is destined to not really work on the whole. Is it worth seeing? I’d argue yes, but I love the type of shlocky horror film they’re sending up, so the high moments are among my favorite this year. The meta commentary by a policeman and an audience watching through binoculars isn’t as funny, but it serves a purpose and has some delightfully bizarre moments.

The opening monologue is one of my favorite monologues in recent cinematic history, addressing the audience directly about things in movies that are done without reason. Sometimes, life has no explanation, so why should a movie? It’s a funny justification for the silliness that unfolds– a tire blowing up animals and human heads, stalking pretty women, taking showers, etc. The movie is extraordinarily short (70ish minutes), as if Dupleux knew its ability to be feature-length was already dicey. The alternation between the tire murders and the meta commentary keeps you from falling in love with the film, but keeps it from getting stale. If you like murderous everyday objects, maybe you’ll forgive its imperfections. Some may grow bored, but for me, Rubber never became… wait for it… tiresome.

~ by russellhainline on April 22, 2011.

One Response to “Mini-Reviews: Hanna, Source Code, Rubber”

  1. […] BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: 10. Michael Giacchino, Super 8 9. Hans Zimmer, Rango 8. Roger Neill, Dave Palmer, & Brian Reitzell, Beginners 7. Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 6. Steven Price, Attack the Block 5. Jonny Greenwood, We Need To Talk About Kevin 4. Patrick Doyle, Rise of the Planet of the Apes 3. Howard Shore, Hugo 2. John Williams, War Horse 1. The Chemical Brothers, Hanna […]

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