Reel Critics: 'Hanna' plot thrills, engrosses

If planning to see the new thriller "Hanna" (and you should), then fasten your seat belts. Wow.

Director Joe Wright ("Atonement") once again guides Saoirse Ronan to a stunning performance in this kinetic, demented fairy tale mixing nonstop action, character-driven plot, and a cool The Chemical Brothers score. Indeed, the climactic finale is set in a Brothers Grimm theme park. 

Hanna (Ronan) is a literal babe in the woods raised by her father in a remote Finnish cabin. Her home schooling includes fluency in several languages, hunting, shooting and hand-to-hand combat. She's never seen any other human besides her father.

That's because daddy (Eric Bana) is a former covert operative who has trained his angelic-looking daughter with one thought in mind: to kill Marissa Weigler, and to adapt or die. OK, so that's two thoughts.

Cate Blanchett is memorable as the crafty Marissa, a wicked CIA queen so tough she wields her toothbrush like a weapon — on herself.

My only complaint is the "Hanna-cam," the frenetic camera style that has become de rigueur for chase sequences. Yet you'll be so engrossed in the story, there's no choice but to remain seated until the film has come to a complete and satisfying stop.


'Arthur' remake is tedious, annoying

The new version of "Arthur" is as obnoxious and annoying as the title character's wasted life.

Played with dreary ineptitude by Russell Brand, he removes every ounce of charm that Dudley Moore brought to the original role that won him an Oscar nomination in 1981. Helen Mirren's great talents are wasted as Arthur's witty and caring nanny who monitors his inane lifestyle.

Clumsy and incompetent, Brand stumbles across the screen as a wealthy playboy oblivious to the reality of ordinary people. The drunken stupidity he brings to every scene quickly wears thin. Modern awareness of the dreadful effects of alcoholism renders the basic premise unfunny and unwelcome.

The silly attempts by his angry mother to force him into an arranged marriage are unbelievable.

Equally artificial is the sideshow romance with a lower-class woman played with gee-whiz innocence by the lovely Greta Gerwig. The women are the lone bright spots in this lame remake.

But the contrived plot results in a film that is tedious and insipid on every level.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

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