Directed by Joe Wright
Written by Seth Lochhead & David Farr
There are the tales of princesses, of pirates, of children raised by wolves, and then there is Hanna. In Hanna, the titular character is a 16 year old girl who has been raised by her father, who is a rogue assassin. Raised in complete isolation from the outside world, with only the knowledge of her father and a tattered book of the fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, Hanna is diligently trained by her father to be a fighting machine. When her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana), has decided Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is ready to meet the real world, he tells her to flip a switch, which will reveal their position to Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), a CIA boss with a desire to catch and put a stop to Heller. When the doors are busted down on the remote cabin, only Hanna is to be found. Her mission: kill Wiegler and meet up with her father in Berlin.
When Hanna makes her escape after doing away with a false Wiegler, she meets up with an interesting English family and plans to make her way to Berlin to meet her father. But the real Wiegler’s operatives are hot on her trail. Pulling out all the stops, Wiegler employs an unhinged German, Isaacs (Tom Hollander), to catch the girl for her. Action and intrigue ensues.
Joe Wright, known for his moody period pieces (Pride & Prejudice and Atonement) breaks new ground with this taut action thriller, throwing the kitchen sink at the audience with elements of political thriller, action, comedy, coming of age, and family drama all thrown into one. But Wright makes it work, and all seem like it belongs. The performances are solid, even if Blanchett’s and Bana’s accents are not. Tom Hollander steals the show with his off-the-rocker portrayal of Isaacs. With his wild outfits to his creepy whistling, anytime his character is on screen, it is unsettling. Saoirse Ronan is also quite good in the lead role.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the film was the camera work, which kept the viewer especially tense with suspense and action as well as enthralled by the beauty captured on screen. The frenetic pace of the editing also suited the films action sequences quite well. But there were also times when the camera, as well as the narrative, was relatively reflective. For instance the scenes with the English family were especially so. They were also some of the most telling scenes, opening up the real world to Hanna for the first time. Apart from the awesome action scenes, it is these eye-opening experiences that make the audience care about the immensely dangerous, yet extremely ignorant Hanna as a character. It humanizes her.
Hanna is not your typical action movie. It is not your typical anything. By not settling into any real genre, though on the whole you could classify it simply as an action film, Hanna is able to electrify and entertain. There does not appear to be a weak link in the narrative, the acting, or the technical aspects of the film, but if I had to pick one thing out about the film that I didn’t like, it would be that the brilliant score provided by the Chemical Brothers was not used nearly often enough.