Released: 8th April 2011
Directed By: Joe Wright
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander, Cate Blanchett
Wow, that Saoirse Ronan is a talented young actress! Nominated for her role in Atonement and also impressive in The Lovely Bones, Saoirse gives a curiously natural performance as a very unnatural 16-year old girl that’s been trained by her father/teacher Erik (Eric Bana) to be the perfect assassin. Director Joe Wright, who also directed Ronan in Atonement, takes a loose adaptation of a Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale and uses European style filmmaking that’s light on the dialogue. “Hanna” has a cool independent action feel that combined with superb acting makes for a hyper kinetic watching experience.
Ronan plays the PG-13 version of Chloe Moretz’s Hit Girl from “Kick-Ass”. Raised in the woods somewhere near the Arctic Circle, Hanna can speak several languages, use weaponry with pinpoint accuracy, and give Keanu Reeve’s Neo a pretty good martial arts fight. The gruffled Erik ( in that hunky kind of way that Bana does without effort) has prepared Hanna all her life for a mission of revenge. Revenge against the woman who took her mother’s life with three bullets. That woman is Marissa, a Southern drawling CIA agent played by Cate Blanchett who appears to very much enjoy playing the very well kept villain that enjoys brushing her teeth a little too much. With aspirations of experiencing the world outside her cabin, Hanna flips an ominous red switch that lets Marissa know where she is and can be both the cat and the mouse.
Attention is not in the details in “Hanna”. As nice as Wright shoots Ronan’s fight sequences, he sometimes cuts away not fully explaining how she achieved some of her feats. These cut aways makes her look like James Bond in some instances. When Hanna goes on the road and the sight of electricity has her perplexed in wonderment, how is it that later she’s able to figure out how to navigate Google to find out her origins with ease? Character motives are not always clear. I wasn’t sure by the end if Marissa wanted to kill Hanna or not.
When Wright gets it right he really gets it wright (so punny). A showstopping adrenaline action sequence through a maze of shipping containers along a pier is perfection. This marvelous scene got the goose bumps bumping and was well accompanied by a tempered but exciting score from The Chemical Brothers. Even though Seth Lochhead and David Farr’s screenplay doesn’t always take time to explain its setups, I greatly appreciated the fact that they didn’t abuse action cliches. The screenwriters tease us with a moment where our heroine passes city thugs in situations, and you think they’ll use the punks that don’t relate to story just to show off her superior butt-kicking skills; but alas she just walks right by. Kudos.
Acting goes along way in these films. I can’t say this with enough urgency: Eric Bana NEEDS to be more frequently and properly used in cinema! Bana, who rocked it in Munich and Star Trek, shows us a few pages out of the man handbook. Tom Hollander is fun to watch as a sinister little German who does the dirty work that Marissa’s government won’t let her do. Blanchett shines again as one of the leading ladies of her craft, and, on Blanchett’s path, Saoirse Ronan will be fun to watch blossom as a future star.
“Hanna” is a well paced action ride that had this viewer enjoying it’s tilt to the grim.