For this weeks my topic was… well, it’s tempting to say secret agent… or assassins or… let’s be blunt what we mean is preprogrammed killing machines.

Wednesday Double Feature - Preprogrammed Killing Machines - American UltraThe first film on my list, American Ultra tells the story of Mike Howell, played by a young  Jesse Eisenberg he’s a nice guy, who loves his girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) and getting stoned and drawing cartoons in order. He’s also prone to panic attacks when he tries to leave his hometown.

One night a mysterious woman comes to the store Mike walks at and tells him some gibberish that makes no sense. Soon after some people try to kill him and he defends himself in self-defense… with a spoon.

Turns out Mike was an elite operative trained for a secret CIA program who had been hidden, and now the CIA wants to clean up the loose ends.

This was mostly just tongue and cheek adventure porn, but entertaining provided you put your suspension of disbelief away for an hour and a half. (At one point he is able to ricochet a bullet 90 degrees to end a firefight by firing at a flying frying pan.

Wednesday Double Feature - Preprogrammed Killing Machines - HannaThe next film on my list Hanna tells the story our eponymous heroine played Saoirse Ronan a cute fifteen who’s been raised by her “father” Erik (played by Eric Bana)  in the woods of Finland to be the perfect assassin.

Hana decides she is ready for the mission that she has been training for to kill Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) a CIA officer who has been hunting for Erik for years. They alert the CIA of their presence and Hana is captured and taken to a base in Morocco (yes really) Hana easily escapes and heads to Berlin where Erik had instructed her to meet him.

She meets up with a very nice English family along the way and befriends their very eccentric daughter Sophie (Jessica Barden). While traveling with them she begins to learn that her extensive knowledge does not include human interaction and you can’t learn everything about the world from reading encyclopedias. Will Hanna learn humanity before her cat and mouse game with Marissa ends?

I had some mixed feelings about this film. attempts to balance surrealist fairytale symbolism with a hardcore spy thriller. But it leads to some nice imagery, especially the winter scenes in the woods of Finland which have a wonderfully disorinenting timeless quality which leaves us not knowing when this takes place until Erik draws a very modern gun from his winter gear. Still, Cate Blanchett gives a wonderfully terrifying performance as Marissa.