As I left the screening for director Joe Wright’s action thriller ‘Hanna’… Yeah, I know I said I’ve stopped going to studio movie screenings because being in close proximity to self-important film critics disgusts me, but I’m going to be out of town when this movie is released so I had no choice but to see it now, but when I left the theater the lovely studio rep, as they always do, asked ‘So… what did you think?’ I told her I’m going to have to percolate on that one for a little bit because I’m not quite sure what I thought about ‘Hanna’. As it is I’m still percolating, but I have a deadline so let’s get started.
For the last sixteen years, her entire life, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) has been living in the forest being trained by her Special Ops father Erik (Eric Bana) for one mission and one mission only. That would be killing CIA deputy director Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchette). That's it. Everybody can sleep, eat and be happy once Marissa Wiegler is dead.
Hanna tells her old man she’s ready to do this but like any concerned father who has taught his baby girl the many ways of death, he’s a little hesitant to send her out in the world, but she knows her script, she can run a 4.2 forty, she can speak six or seven languages, she wrangles weapons with the best of them and she’s ready. The game is now on.
If you’ve seen the trailer you know what happens. Hanna is in CIA holding cell, she requests to speak to Marissa, they send in another red headed agent who gets her neck snapped as a reward for her dedication to her job and now Hanna is running around wherever the heck this place is, causing a ruckus and shooting people in the head. We have an issue with this, but more on that later.
Hanna, now free of this place and convinced that her mission is complete, just has to make to a Berlin location to be reunited with Dad. But that Marissa… man, she’s not a very nice person. You see Hanna isn’t a normal sixteen year old little girl. And this goes way beyond simply being raised in the woods and trained to kill. Without giving anything away Marissa really can’t have Erik, one of her former top operatives,
walking around breathing because there’s no telling what he might say, and Hanna and her blood test results that she’s clutching could be problematic. This is why Marissa has hired some outside muscle not connected to the Agency to help with her little problem, not that Marissa is adverse to killing completely harmless people herself when she feels the need. This is also why running into a wispy, willowy, seemingly helpless blue-eye blonde girl and offering her your help… is not recommended. She doesn’t mean any harm, but even though she doesn’t mean any harm, harm will still come your way if you give this child a helping hand. Just don’t do it.
Still percolating over here about ‘Hanna’ but let’s start with my little issue. For sixteen years Erik has kept Hanna hidden from Marissa and trained her to kill Marissa. Marissa is well aware of Hanna’s existence. So when Hanna shows up, she’s a little surprised but she does have a pretty good idea what she’s capable of, and I’m thinking she also probably knows what Erik has been doing with Hanna for these last sixteen years. You with me? So why in the world would Erik, a highly trained and intelligent secret agent, think that Marissa Wiegler would voluntarily walk into a locked room with an unbound young woman that Marissa knows full well is a trained killer. Somebody probably should’ve given that poor agent, that now has her head on backwards, this information as well. Marissa would never have entered that room and Erik the secret agent should’ve known this. I have an issue with that, but I guess they had to get this movie jump started some kind of way.
Regardless, I think I liked this movie. It’s part pursuit thriller and part… I don’t know… the coming of age of a little girl? We actually spend more times watching Hanna experience things for the first time than we spend watching Hanna exhibit the Ways of the Warrior. Hanna has never experienced the magic of electricity, seen a television, ridden in a car or heard music. Hanna dates a boy… in a way… worst first date ever… she makes a friend though I’m thinking that probably didn’t turn out all that well either and eventually she learns the truth. This is the majority of the film.
Wright paces his movie strangely because in one instance it’s slow and quiet as Hanna does these things in the woods or experiences these events in this brand new world, then its Action Time highlighted by fast motion, quick cuts and techno music. I didn’t have a problem with the decisions, it was a just a little different. But that issue I told you about earlier… in a consistently quicker paced film I wouldn’t have had time to ponder all of that. See ‘Limitless’ as an example of a plot hole ridden film that doesn’t give you chance to examine its plot holes until it is long over.
Saoirse Ronan is so effortless and so transparent as Hanna that it is difficult to believe the young lady is actually acting. Everything she does as Hanna, even the fight scenes, is completely natural and believable. Credit to the director as well in crafting his scenes in such a way to at least make it look like that this 100 pound wisp of a girl was taking care of some serious business. I also think that we are on record as saying that Cate Blanchette is the best actress on the planet Earth. Right? Just not in this movie. Maybe it was that shaky southern accent or the sneering or that Marissa Wiegler seemed more like a cartoon character villain as opposed to a real person… in contrast to Eric Bana who came off as very genuine and human in his characterization of the concerned father who has unleashed his sweet but murderous daughter unto the world. Plus there was all that running and killing they had Cate doing. Didn’t work all that well in that Indiana Jones movie either. That’s just not her. I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but they probably should’ve got somebody else and this somebody else probably should’ve been older.
But now that I’m done percolating I can safely say that I did enjoy director Joe Wright’s oddly paced, erratic action thriller. Saoirse Ronan was a true revelation, finally freeing me from the nightmares I experienced watching her get raped, murdered, vivisected, stuffed in a box and thrown in a pit in ‘The Lovely Bones’. This was way better than that.