Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander
My Rating: 8/10.
In Short: Assassins on Acid
Joe Wright’s fast-paced assassin action flick is distinctly reminiscent of a personal favourite of mine, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass. But where Hanna differs is that it is in no way a comedy. The violence is straight, to the point, and yet not explicit; in America this earned a PG-13 rating. It tells of a teenage girl bred to be an assassin, raised by her “father” (Eric Bana) in the middle of nowhere to hunt and kill; to adapt, or die.
The girl is played by Saoirse Ronan, a young actress whose talent I had failed to grasp until seeing this movie. When I saw her in The Lovely Bones, I’ll be honest: I hated her. But she shows skill here, learning some great action moves, some of which were obviously not faked and skilfully adapting a German accent. She proves she can carry a film and manages to take on her character well; better than I expected, to be honest.
The supporting cast features Cate Blanchett, bringing a Texas accent to her role as an intelligence agent desperate to capture Hanna and find out the truth about how her “father” raised her; a deeper personal agenda is apparent. Also starring is Eric Bana’s as the girl’s father, a role he brings depth and skill to.
Hanna is the first action film by director Joe Wright; his previous films include the period piece Pride and Prejudice, the classic war romance drama Atonement, and the uplifting drama The Soloist. Admittedly this is a departure. But Wright takes the film on and proves he can make an action movie work. There are some really great action sequences, backed up by a surreal electro/techno soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers. The action scenes are edited superbly, the visual effects constructed effectively, and Wright’s direction is spot on.
While the film’s basic plot premise is not exactly original, I must admit I like what Wright has done with it. The film opens with a shot of complete white screen, which fades into a snowy area Hanna has made her hunting ground, as she kills and guts a deer. The scene is constructed nicely, grabs attention, and introduces the fast-paced feel of the film beautifully.
While Ronan manages to make the film fly by quickly, it is the supporting performance from Blanchett that I found truly remarkable. Her character raises so many questions, and she is presented as even more heartless than Hanna. They are both murderers, adept at their craft, but Blanchett excels Ronan, with a cold attitude that is strikingly disturbing, whereas Hanna’s innocent attitude is hardly refreshing.
I like how the film ended. It was startling, and short. I wasn’t expecting it to be as brief as it was, but I liked it. I left the theatre reflecting on what I had seen; sure the morality that is applied to a teenage murderer is dubious, but issues such as that are often glossed over. Films like this and Kick-Ass don’t need to take a moral stance. They are there for us to enjoy and to keep our attention. While the humour in Kick-Ass makes the idea of it seem much more farcical and thus acceptable, Hanna‘s flaw is perhaps that it takes itself too seriously, especially when genetic mutation becomes involved later in the film. What Hanna has to offer is mostly what we’ve seen before, but I can’t say Wright’s take on the idea bothered me much at all. It’s acceptable as an action film; all in good fun and et cetera, but there are times when I was exhausted and bored with it. I suppose this is natural; the film does not overdo the action scenes or anything, but there are some issues I had with plot development in the last half.
Other than that, I think Hanna is a remarkably well-paced, strongly built and suitable action movie, one of the better that this year has had to offer.
What did you think?