Hanna (8/10)

Hanna (2011)

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?

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Posted on September 18, 2011, in Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I’m jealous. I’ve wanted to see this film for a fucking long time, but it was either this or MELANCHOLIA. Now I have to choose between this and THE HELP. I’m going with THE HELP, since I just read the book and I *need* to see the movie. Oh well, it took so long to get here, so what’s another 120 days for the DVD release?!

    Glad you liked it, though!

  2. I personally wouldn’t mind a more serious take on the child assassin idea(I actually a anime series that was pretty much that a while ago)

    Anyways, i will probably end up getting this from redbox or something

  3. This was such a great movie. Really enjoyed this and somehow action movies seem to have more depth to them if the main characters are played by women. Somehow it adds a layer of complexity. This movie will surely end up in my top 10 list of this year.

  4. It kind of came and went in theater but I’m looking forward to checking this out once Netflix makes it available. Been hearing good things about it, including your review.

  5. I’m glad you enjoyed the film and gave it a very solid review. However, your comments about Saoirse were surprising to say the least. She is the most gifted young actress in cinema, and if it wasn’t for the critical reaction against the film (The Lovely Bones) and the disappointing box office results, she probable would have received her second Oscar nomination. I felt her turn in the film was an example of an emotionally explosive performance.

    She already has a nomination-at age 13-under her belt, and Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter considers her one of the best actresses on the planet. In Hanna she again commands the screen with a very powerful presence, and her ability to sell us this character is a result of her incredibly natural acting skills. If you have a chance to go through her filmography, you will see an extremely young actress dominate nearly every scene in which she has been a part.

    • Hi, and thanks for stopping by.

      I certainly don’t hate Ronan now. I just never got used to her; she was an actress I had trouble with, and because of how much I hated THE LOVELY BONES it was difficult for her performance to register as good. I’m glad I saw HANNA, because it helped me to realize how much talent she has.

  6. One of the best action films I’ve seen, I especially like that the main character is a teenage girl (obviously). It just worked so well, and even though it did use some action film formulas, it still was fresh.

  7. I remember hearing that the writer is from Vancouver (where I live) and then remember reading mixed reviews about the film. Then I watched it, and was pleasantly surprised. No, it wasn’t the best action-thriller I’ve ever seen but it was certainly different. Different in style to say the least. It definitely had the “Euro” feel to it, not just from the settings. I found it to be a bit of an adventurous and even fantasy-like film at times with its pace, style, score and cinematography. Entertaining.

    • PS. I think it was underrated or given the cold shoulder (in reviews) just like Sucker Punch was — for being what it was.

      • scastagnoli1

        The film earned a respectable percentage (71%) on RT, and the Metacritic score of 65 is actually quite solid. As you may know, their system rates a film garnering “mixed” results with a 50 score, so Hanna’s grade was pretty decent. There were critics who hated it, but they represented a fairly small number.

        Hanna was a great looking film, and it had pulsating score that melded well with a number of scenes. Saoirse was the centerpiece of the film, and she was able to show us a complex and unusual character with a healthy dose her powerful presence and charisma.

        I’m looking forward to the release of Violet and Daisy and Byzantium later this year. Then next spring, she will be introduced to a very large mainstream audience when she stars as the lead portraying two characters in one body in “The Host.”

        • I loved the score, it complemented the action well. Ronan is an excellent actress and filled the title role exceptionally.

    • I agree, it does feel “different” to what one might expect.

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