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Hanna – review

Hanna

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Hanna is the story of a young girl who is very mysterious.  Her father, played by Eric Bana, was once a government agent of some sorts and for reasons, that we will learn throughout the course of the film, he kidnapped Hanna and hid her away in an Arctic forest for her entire life, teaching her how to survive off the land, and training her every day to learn how to live.

Hanna grew up being trained as the perfect assassin.  She has no idea about the outside world. She’s only heard about electricity, but never seen how it works, or has any idea about the appliances that it powers.  She yearns to hear music, but when we first meet her she can only describe it through a definition she has from a dictionary.  She has been hidden this entire time, but she soon states that she is ready…ready for what?  We learn that she is ready to flip the switch on a homing beacon box and let Marissa Wiegler find her.  Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) is the woman she has been training her to kill her entire life.

There is so much going on in Hanna that at times it is hard to keep up.  The film goes from being a stark drama in a forest, shot in a way that reminds me of early Swedish and German cinema much like Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, and slowly moves through new phases.  It becomes entirely different films along the way, as it ends somewhere near a techno psycho-drama with a pumping Chemical Brothers soundtrack pulsing it through.  It’s the type of film that you can enjoy immediately, but I guarantee on repeated viewings you’re going to pick up on a lot more that you missed.

I know it’s early in the year, but Saorise Ronan deserves serious Oscar consideration.  She is mind-blowing as Hanna, a perfect killer wrapped up inside the body of an innocent child.  She seems to know nothing of the real world, and the majority of the film revolves around her journey and the cast of characters she encounters throughout the way. There are obvious fairy tale connotations throughout the film, specifically the Grimm Brothers fairy tales, and director Joe Wright has a lot of fun playing around with these themes without letting them take over the story as a whole.  They’re just running in the background.  Ronan is very monotone, and robotic in her movements, relying on her training and background at all times.  Sometimes this backfires in some really funny scenes like the one in which she is thrust into a first date by a young girl that she befriends along her journey.

The film is all about Hanna and that journey, and Wright does a great job of bringing in Bana’s character, but Bana’s storyline never really takes over the screen.  He’s just a supporting character.  Cate Blanchett is also fantastic in the wicked witch/evil stepmother role.  She’s meticulous in her movement, and pacing throughout the film.  Every step is expertly planned out and thought about ahead of time, and Hanna is trying to stay one step ahead of her throughout the film.  The chase, and interplay between them drives the film.


Joe Wright is a wizard with the camera here. There are a lot of great camera movements and quick cuts that are are used in different ways throughout the flow of the film.  The film acts on multiple layers and is almost shot as a five act play with each act of the film shot a little different and moving quicker and quicker to keep the action center stage.  He lets the film slowly unravel on it’s own as we get more and more pieces of the story.

It’s hard for me to believe that Hanna will resonate with the majority of US film-goers, because it’s a style of cinema that most of them have never seen before.  Wright is tapping into so many different varieties of film that it may come off as completely foreign to the masses.  This however does not mean that Hanna isn’t an expertly crafted film…because that is exactly what it is.

Grade:  A