Not your typical action film. The director and writer made some strong choices about layering this film with both reality and heightened, fairy-tale like elements. I think the reality works better, though the extra themes add some wonderful moments of recognition. Despite its deliberate pace, the film builds the pressure and is relentless in its momentum. Even the moments of respite between confrontations are filled with discovery and are interesting.
This isn’t to say there aren’t some weak aspects to the film. There are two action sequences early on that were filmed in short-cut music video style. While this certainly added some momentum, I found it more distracting and annoying than exciting. And the reason for the whole plot situation was murky at best and seems to have two different explanations that don’t quite jibe. But all that is an excuse to have the movie anyway, so I just let it go.
Most surprisingly, the weakest link in the cast was Cate Blanchett. Her choices on the fairy-tale level were dead on, evil, and cold. But, for some reason, I found her character on face value to be very disingenuous. I can’t say if it was her accent or her actions, but she never felt quite like she fit into the film comfortably. It didn’t ruin the film, but it cause a certain amount of dissonance.
Whether you decide to focus on one level or the other, however, this is an entertaining romp with some decidedly darker edges. It even has a couple interesting extras on the creation and filming of the film.