It seems like (Pacino’s) Hanna has more fun than (De Niro’s) McCauley does. Maybe I’m projecting, and he’s just more fun to watch because he’s more exasperated and has the power to say whatever he wants. He definitely smiles more. His stakes are lower in a way. He’s got a day job, a sense of purpose, even if home life is a wreck. Note the close of the hospital scene, when he’s paged back into action, he gives his wife a smile before an almost gleeful run down the stairs, back to the chase. Compare to the ending, where there’s no triumph on his face. More like disappointment.
McCauley is always more restrained, as he always has less room for error. (Hanna asks him, “What are you, some kind of monk?”). After two really upsetting phone calls (one with adversary Van Zandt, one with his partner Trejo at the breakfast joint), he doesn’t slam the phone or toss it, but seems to pause, gather himself, and return the phone to rest.
At the diner with Hanna, McCauley mentions that recurring dream of running out of time. Note how, towards the end, when he’s looking to find Waingro, Eady and Nate mention/ask him about the time he has left before he catches his flight out of the country. A guy who does things like to wrap his glasses in paper napkins loses his usual discipline, and things go haywire.
One last thing: I love how the music is so supportive. It’s there in subtle ways like in the drive-in money exchange, where much of the tension rides on the music, but it’s not until the fade-out that you realize the music is even there. It’s present in more obvious ways like in the nighttime balcony romance, with that noodly jazz guitar playing behind soft, gauzy synth curtains. Lord, I love that.
Other movies I re-watched this year include Winter’s Bone, Melancholia, Mission Impossible, Days of Heaven, Blade Runner, Bloodsport, The Last of the Mohicans, The Godfather, Drive, Mean Girls, The Shawshank Redemption, Raging Bull, and Aliens.