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With December finally here and the awards season right around the corner, one can’t help but wonder what the motivation was to release Deadfall right in the thick of it. It certainly doesn’t deserve a place among the more coveted films to be released this month, instead feeling more like a standard throwaway thriller that should have been released in January or February, when studios dump whatever garbage they have sitting around into theaters just to get it out of their hands. To be fair, Deadfall isn’t terrible. It’s just terribly boring. With movies like Skyfall behind us and The Hobbit in front, there’s no real reason to see this. Just wait the extra week until it inevitably vanishes from our collective memories.

Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) aren’t your typical siblings. They’re actually thieves who have just escaped from a casino heist gone wrong and are on their way to the Canadian border. However, when their driver crashes their car in an attempt to avoid a passing animal, they find themselves forced to make the trek on foot in a blizzard, splitting up and vowing to meet later. Eventually, Liza runs into Jay (Charlie Hunnam), a Silver medalist at the Beijing Olympics who has just been released from prison and is on his way to his parents (played by Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson) for Thanksgiving dinner. Liza and Jay start an innocent fling with each other, playing a game where they pretend to be together and go by different aliases, which puts a kink in Addison’s plan to reunite with his sister and cross the border, which Jay’s parents live very close to.

And, as expected, this leads to a final showdown at Jay’s household that plays out more like a whimper than a bang. Although it wouldn’t be right to spoil what happens, Deadfall is such a conventional thriller that all but those who are completely unfamiliar with the genre will be able to predict its sequence of events well before they actually happen. It plods along rather typically and banally; it’s not until that final sequence that the film manages to build up any excitement at all. When everyone converges on that house where Bana has taken the parents hostage and the game between Jay and Liza has blossomed into a full-fledged romance, everybody unaware of Liza’s true relationship to Addison, intrigue is built, but by then, it’s too little too late and it ends too abruptly, never allowing us to savor the feeling of watching certain characters get their comeuppance.

With such a boring, trite story, the least Deadfall could do was give us the pleasure of watching someone get what’s coming to them, but it instead favors wrapping up inconsequential side stories that were mostly uninteresting and laughable to begin with. The most egregious offender of this comes in the form of Hanna (Kate Mara), a police officer in this small, quiet town who has daddy issues revolving around sexism, blame and a lack of trust. Unfortunately for her, her dad is the Sheriff and she answers to him. It's a terrible an underdeveloped B-story and every exchange they have is forced to the point where I’m pretty sure the actors involved developed hemorrhoids. (When asked why she can’t go out and help in their investigation, he responds with a question about what she would do if something important came up. “What if you have to change your tampon?” he asks.)

Perhaps the only thing more bored than I was while watching Deadfall were the actors actually in it, most of whom seemed to be coasting by for a paycheck while they waited for their next big break, particularly Eric Bana, who has always been an underwhelming actor, even in critically lauded films like Munich. They all seem to put forth only the slightest bit of effort, as if they knew that pretty much nobody was going to watch their movie. If they somehow had that premonition, they’re likely to be right. Deadfall just doesn’t deserve our time. Put it out in the middle of February, when moviegoers have been numbed by at least a month of likely-to-be-bad films and perhaps it looks more appetizing, but now? We have plenty of better options.

Deadfall receives 2/5



Hanna is a movie of perplexing interest. It’s a technically sound film from an accomplished director who has, with the exception of The Soloist, put out a string of excellent movies. From an aesthetic viewpoint, Hanna suffers from only minor problems, but the whole of the experience is empty and meaningless. It’s nothing but an exercise in stylish action, which would be fine if the action scenes were anything worth talking about. Hanna is as lively as a dull movie can get, which makes it some sort of anomaly, but if that’s the biggest praise it can gather, does that really make it worth seeing?

Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna. For as long as she can remember, she has lived out in the middle of the woods with her father, Erik, played by Eric Bana. He used to be a CIA agent, but went rogue many years ago and has been in hiding ever since. For some reason, he has a switch in their cabin that, when flipped, will give away their position to Marissa, played by Cate Blanchett, a former colleague of his who intends on wiping them out for mysterious purposes. Erik has spent years training Hanna to survive in preparation for this day. After the opening scenes, the flip is switched and the chase is on.

There is one shining light in Hanna and that is Saoirse Ronan, who makes up for her tepid performance in The Lovely Bones by capturing the type of ass kicking, female empowerment mojo the girls in Sucker Punch muffed up with over-sexualization. She’s a tiny little thing, but she holds her own against the bulky men fighting her, and believably so. The reasoning behind her skills is kind of silly, but it’s a silliness you have to accept as essential to the story.

Alas, much of what else that happens is anything but essential. The film’s biggest downfall that it fails to build momentum because it wastes its time in needless narrative tangents, like when Hanna goes out on a date with a boy she just met. Its intention is to show how inexperienced she is with the outside world, which includes social interaction, but it has zero relevance to the broader story. It's a scene that can only be described as random and unnecessary, especially when compared to other, better scenes that more clearly show how ignorant she is to the world, like when she discovers electricity for the first time.

When it does get to the action, it becomes a repetitive slog through meandering chase scenes where nonsensical actions become the order of the day. Hanna may have the combat skills of a martial arts expert, but most of the time she opts to simply run away, which doesn’t make for a particularly thrilling experience. Presumably to make up for its lack of variety, director Joe Wright employs camera trickery on a few occasions that have no impact or metaphorical purpose (one of its few aesthetic stumbles, along with its occasional use of shaky cam that feels so out of place as to be unpleasantly jarring). The final nail in the coffin comes from the musical score, which is so piercingly loud and pounding that it sometimes drowns out the dialogue in the more intense scenes. I would say this is an unforgivable error, but in a story with no point, it’s merely an annoyance.

Hanna is a film that is fun to rip apart with friends. It has so many minor errors it almost becomes laughable. For instance, very early in the movie a plane flies low over Hanna and Erik’s hidden cabin in the woods, which is something Hanna has never experienced. I guess the airlines had just been shut down for the last 14 years (and don’t even get me started on why they flipped that switch). From what I could tell walking out of the theater after my viewing, Hanna will be a popular movie, but don’t be fooled by word of mouth. “Popular” doesn’t mean “good.”

Hanna receives 2/5