08 June 2011



Starring Saorise Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Barden, Tom Hollander
Written by Seth Lochhead
Directed by Joe Wright
Release: 8 April 2011
Focus Features, 111 mins., Rated R

Plot: Hanna is brought up to locate and kill Marissa Wiegler for the death of her mother, and her journey in the outside world presents her with new experiences she never dreamed of in this unconventional coming-of-age tale.

What Little Girls Are Made Of

HANNA is a odd hybrid of a movie. There's the fantastical revenge element, where this young girl springs into lethal action without hesitation or the slightest hint of emotion, and then there's the growing up tale, where the vengeance takes a backseat and Hanna is exposed to a life outside of data and facts told to her by father Erik (Bana). Seth Lochhead's script isn't deep, and it doesn't attempt to say something about human nature or relationships or the goodness or wrongness of revenge. No, HANNA should be categorized as a action/revenge film, and rightfully so.

But director Joe Wright seems particularly invested in Hanna and wants the audience to be so, as well. The camera lingers on our lead longer than one would typically expect: her eyes, her expression - vacant or worrisome or intrigued - her experiences outside kicking ass. When she is kicking ass, Wright films it quick and ruthlessly, just like her [that said, Wright films a particularly gorgeous one-shot of Eric Bana beating the snot out of four or five bad guys in a parking garage]. Wright is pulling for us to be just as interested in Hanna's reactions to the real world and her newfound relationship with a English family as we are with seeing her dish out Marissa Weigler's just rewards.

It's fantastic Wright concentrates on Hanna as a character, as a human being who feels and is hit with a sense of wonderment of the outside world, not simply a vehicle where to dish out some ass whoopin', which I admittedly feared. Depth of character is nice, especially in a action film, and the film definitely delivers in that regard.

Other notable elements of HANNA include accents from many of the cast that seem to appear, disappear, and transform with each passing scene, a rockin' soundtrack by some band called The Chemical Brothers that ranges from occasionally annoying to absolutely bloody awesome, some super stellar cinematography that makes this film look and feel more spectacular than it actually is, a fine and subtle 'cameo' from Eric Bana (I say 'cameo' because he's hardly in the film, ultimately), and a few sci-fi elements thrown into the plot for good measure.

Style and Substance: Finding a Balance

When Hanna makes the final shot, completing her mission, and the film snaps to the red and white title card, I admittedly was a little disappointed. Yes, our dear little Hanna achieves her revenge for Mommy and Daddy, and she has a bloody time doing so, but writer Lochhead and director Wright successfully grabbed me with the character to the point that I want to know where she goes next, I want to know the next step of her journey. One path is fulfilled, the path of vengeance, and now Hanna can do literally anything she wants - I wanted that type of note to end the movie on, not a mirror of its opening title card with a shot ringing out at the camera. But my wish for that alone is major kudos to Lochhead and Wright, who manage to make what could be easily mistaken as a simple revenge story into a rather interesting tale of a young girl experiencing the real world for the first time (outside of facts and numbers swimming around her brain), and keeping me completely engulfed from start to finish.

Next to Saoirse Ronan's stellar performance as Hanna - emotionally disconnected, calculating, and acrobatic in her scenes of action; vulnerable with awe and wonder at the world as she makes her trek - the real standout star of the picture is director Joe Wright. Honestly, I haven't had the 'pleasure' of seeing ATONEMENT, and I dunno if I'm going to be taking the plunge anytime in the near future, but Wright's kinetic style works wonders here. The hand held camerawork, the super awesome oners (e.g., the container dock, Erik's parking garage/wherever fight scene), the Michael Bayey-circlyness - all fantastic and is just as vital to the HANNA experience as Ronan's commitment to the role.

Rating: 7/10 = HANNA kicks all kinds of ass, a technical marvel and some strong performances, the film is a bit more than a simple revenge splatterfest, and I love it all the more for that.

1 comment:

TheVern said...

I hope that every five years we get another Hanna movie. In the next one I want to her to be visted by another person with someone with equal powers to hers. Seriously check out The Chemical Brothers other albums they are good. Nice review