I recently saw two movies, Source Code and Hanna, both of which were very good, but both posed a bunch of questions left unanswered. Or maybe I’m just not very insightful.
Source Code, sort of like Sideways, left me wondering how I was ever going to remember that title. I never did figure out what “sideways” meant in terms of the movie of that name. I finally looked up “source code” on the net and learned that it’s the text written in computer programming language. Okay. But I still think I’d rather have had a title more in tune with the movie. Source Code (or better, Flashback) was based on an old science fiction plum about alternate universes. Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), a decorated helicopter pilot, awakens to find himself aboard a train passing through Chicago, seated across from a woman, Christina (Michelle Monaghan), who seems to know him, telling him that she’s decided to take his advice but she doesn’t ever say what that advice is. Eight minutes pass for a very confused Capt. Stevens (and the viewer as well), and then the train blows up, killing him and everyone else aboard. He awakens to find himself back in what he thinks is a simulator capsule, conversing via computer screen with a woman handler (Vera Farmiga) who tells him that he is involved in a scientific method for sending someone back to recreate the last memories of one who died in the bombing. We find out that he’s been sent there to discover who the bomber is so that he can defuse an even greater terrorist threat later that afternoon. He has only eight minutes to learn all this, after which time the bomb goes off and he returns to the simulator. Farmiga tells him that he is the closest in physical and mental attributes to those of the dead man on the train. In the first attempt he doesn’t learn much, only examining fellow passengers to see which might be the bomber. He is sent back repeatedly, each time learning more and more about where the bomb is and who might be responsible, each time running through his eight minutes, each time dying in the explosion. As I said, an old science fiction plum but one that‘s juicy and satisfying, despite all the questions I had as I walked out of the theater. Go see it. Then tell me what your answers are.
The previews of Hanna were so intriguing that I could hardly wait to see it. I mean, a young girl named Hanna (Saoirise Ronan), sixteen years old and living with her father Erik (Eric Bana) in a remote region of northern Finland, being home schooled and trained in various skills that would do any assassin proud. We learn that the father is a CIA agent who opted out, fleeing with his daughter after the mother is killed by another CIA agent, played by a charmingly sinister Cate Blanchett. Erik is training his daughter supposedly to find and kill Marissa (Blanchett). Why Hanna? Why not him? The time finally comes when she declares that she is ready. What follows is a tour of her capture, her killing of one she thinks is Marrissa, her escape from where she is being held (in an underground Moroccan facility) and then a Quixotic journey afoot through the desert, then joining a British family touring Morocco, eluding a psychopath that Marissa has sent to find and kill her, finally making her way to Germany where she is to meet her father at Mr. Grimm’s house. This is followed by lots of kick-ass action, ending with an echo of something Hanna said near the beginning when she killed with bow and arrow an antlered deer in the snows of Finland, “I just missed your heart.” This while she is gutting and skinning the animal. It reminded me of that popular saying from There Will Be Blood when Daniel Day-Lewis told the young preacher, “I’ll drink your milkshake.” I had to look that one up to find that early 20th century oil drillers meant that they could legally drill a well down and then under someone else’s property to extract the oil, sort of like drinking someone else’s milkshake. Still quite a few questions about everyone’s motivation. But there’s one question with one very good answer: Who will be around long after this movie is forgotten? Answer: Young Saoirise Ronan, fair and youthfully beautiful, will be around for a very long time. Go see it if only to watch her in kick-ass action.