Who knew Joe Wright, director of such female-centric films like Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement was able to make a kick-ass action film with a strong story and even stronger characters? Well Wright crafts all of this with his film Hanna, a fantastic action film that pulls no punches with a PG-13 rating and has some of the best villains seen in awhile. Fans of action, violence and a strong story about tough females (that doesn’t get lost in CGI or lingerie) should head out to see Hanna!
Once upon a time a young girl named Hanna (Saorise Ronan) grew up in the desolate woods with her father Erik (Eric Bana) being taught how to kill and survive. All of Hanna’s training is meant to help her defeat the evil Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), a CIA operative bent on capturing her and her father. When Hanna thinks she’s destroyed Marissa for good she goes on a quest to meet up with her father, but Marissa is hot on her tail and will stop at nothing to get her back.
Hanna plays out like a modern day fairy-tale, and yet Wright expertly weaves it into a story about a girl growing up and hell-bent on destroying the one woman who wants to kill her. The film borrows from a lot of tales including Red Riding Hood and Cinderella but also the Harry Potter series with its concept that only one can survive in the world. All of the fairy-tale imagery is blended so beautifully into the film including a terrific shot of Marissa coming out of the mouth of a gigantic wolf. This is how the new breed of fairy tale movies coming out should look, not beating you over the head with what story it is, but blending it into a unique story all its own. The main selling point of the movie has been the action and it’s where the movie delivers in spades! Hanna is lethal from the first frame where you see her killing a reindeer and saying sadly “I almost hit your heart.” From there she does what’s needed to survive including killing a lot of people. The questions arise when you see how on par Marissa is with her, to the point of killing the elderly and threatening children. Hanna is a film that questions the nature of evil and what makes Hanna different from the evil Marissa, is it possible that this is what Hanna could become? Wright answers this by showing Hanna’s interactions with a traveling family and their young daughter. It’s a small part of the film but it allows Hanna to be normal and realize how isolated she’s become. The movie truly is a coming of age tale and as the film progresses you see the maturation of Hanna and how she fights what she’s been trained to be like. Oh and that score by the Chemical Brothers everyone is talking about, still haven’t gotten it out of my head!
The acting in this is also superb with every actor performing above and beyond their roles. Ronan is the soul of this movie as the young Hanna and it’s shocking at times to realize the young girl from Atonement and The Lovely Bones could be such a bad-ass. Ronan is incredibly physical when she’s fighting and you can see how physically demanding the character is, but underneath all that the actress conveys such a longing for friends and a mother she never met. This is contrasted with Blanchett’s chilling portrayal of Marissa; a woman who you could believe would eat her own young. Blanchett is so frightening, whether she’s slowly placing a silencer on a gun or trying to coax a small child to reveal information. The actress makes her character elegant and graceful but conveys the witch of fairy-tales so silently that you’re taken aback. Her relationship with Hanna is fraught with different levels of complex and paired with Ronan they’re phenomenal. Bana has a small role as Hanna’s father and he plays the role with such a love that you feel for him as he tries to protect the only child he’s ever known. Tom Hollander is also frightening as the henchman Isaacs who provides humor as well as menace.
The only negative of this movie is something that a lot more directors are doing, the handheld camera. Towards the end of the movie Wright relies far too much on handheld and it causes the fights to become big blurs that will make you sick. The sad thing is how unnecessary it is and it’s odd that it’s used so much at the film’s conclusion.
Overall, Hanna is a bloody affair equivalent to a younger version of Kill Bill. Fans of action, suspense, and Tarantino will enjoy Wright’s subtle tribute to fairy-tales. Note to sit as far back as you can so the ending doesn’t make you seasick!