Hanna Directed by: Joe Wright Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett Running Time: 1 hr 51 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: April 8, 2011
PLOT: A 16-year-old girl (Ronan) raised by her father (Bana) is on the run from the CIA, who mysteriously want her dead at all costs.
WHO'S IT FOR?: “Adapt or die” is not a poster tagline meant to primarily introduce the philosophy of title character Hanna. Instead, it’s a word to the wise for the film’s audience, who must adapt or else to the film’s jarring changes of tone and general refusal to go down as generic. Those who can look past their possible expectations for constant crazy action will be certainly satisfied by the amount they are ultimately given, along with the multitude of real tension piled onto an intelligent story. On top of that, this is directed by Joe Wright, who also did Atonement. Even more so, this shouldn’t be expected to be like a sequel to Kick-Ass.
EXPECTATIONS: Having only seen a poster when it came to promotional material, my curiosities were already on board considering that this would have the director of Pride and Prejudice handling a movie about a child assassin.
Saoirse Ronan as Hanna: While she may bear the title, Ronan's character might actually be the least interesting of the film's leads (especially compared to the power in Bana and Blanchett's performances.) Hanna's upbringing, which includes he reduced capacity to feel fear, is relatively fascinating. She is programmed to be a computer (not a killing machine, so to speak) by her father. Because she's relatively automated, for the most part she is like observing a robot, with her emotional attempts a bit distant to the audience. When she tries to experience a first kiss, the moment is reduced to a gag, instead something poignant. Her interior journey to better understand herself is left for the monologue. It is when Ronan screams like a banshee, with her arctic blue eyes looking for the next opponent, that we really get into her character. Score: 7
Eric Bana as Erik: There’s a reason he was paid a special tribute to in Knocked Up. No one can immerse themselves in such palpable action like Eric Bana, who combines intense emotion with utter fisticuffs brutality in this role that plays perfectly to his strengths. Here, he rages quietly as the movie builds up, and then explodes in the third quarter with excellent fight choreography and life-or-death determination. Bana is not all “hulk” here, so to speak, as his character’s heartbreak can be felt just as much as his fists when he propels them into someone’s face. Score: 7
Cate Blanchett as Marissa: Not entirely a new type of villain, Marissa is still the standing of excellent, subtle character construction. Even her introduction is fascinating – we’re behind her as she brushes her teeth, while she uses an assortment of strange looking dental tools. As Hanna plays on, Blanchett continues to represent an even uglier side of violence, as she oozes death in her perfect outfits and straight-forward haircut. An excellent parallel to the title character, this mysterious character with a fluctuating accent continually proves to be the most lost person here, and therefore the scariest aspect of Hanna. Blanchett gives Marissa a strictness that makes her scary like a gothic portrait. Score: 8
TALKING: Regardless of their country of origin, all characters speak relatively fast. It's as if they've been similarly programmed to socialize like Hanna, but taught by actual machines, etc. When the film takes a strong left turn for dry comedy in the second act, the dialogue especially pops when delivered by a rambunctious family of tourists who are played up as comic social commentary. Score: 6
SIGHTS: Whether it’s capturing an escape scene like a rave, or using a single shot to depict a moment that spans five glorious minutes, the camera of Hanna is always wonderfully artful, and regularly comes with a mind for unusual framing. The same aspect of artfulness be said for the restrained way Hanna presents violence, which helps the film maintain an accessible PG-13 rating while also keeping it from going overboard (this movie doesn’t need excessive gore to prove its point). Score: 8
SOUNDS: With its wondrous chaos hidden for the story’s beginning, Hanna can be extremely still. It then pounces on its audience with a fantastic score by the Chemical Brothers - one that plays into the movie’s fairytale ideas. It sounds like something that would get eternal play on a Ferris Wheel in ElectronicaLand. With key tracks from the Hanna soundtrack including “Hannah’s Theme” and “The Devil’s In The Beats,” this is the best recent score this side of The Social Network (its especially better than Daft Punk’s score for TRON: Legacy). Score: 9
BEST SCENE: The same director behind that impressive one-take shot on the beach in Atonement strikes back again with a scene that could very well be one of this year’s most resonant. While I won’t spoil it, it includes Eric Bana stalking through a subway station. It is filmed with no cuts, and it's a beautiful mix of both camera and fight choreography. Anybody watching Hanna who dares complain about the film being boring will be guaranteed to get their asses handed to them by this scene.
ENDING: "I just missed your heart."
QUESTIONS: How well will this do in the box office?
REWATCHABILITY: Every ounce of Hanna is verified for a second viewing. I want to study Ronan’s action skills and Blanchett’s facial expressions, I want to analyze Bana’s fight choreography, I want to hear the score set with the movie, I want to see those beautiful moments of cinematography. I even want to see that guy from In The Loop, (Tom Hollander) whistle again while juggling a lead pipe.
Don’t be fooled by the bow and arrow or supreme hunting skills. Hanna isn’t your usual killer kid. Electricity freaks her out, never mind a glimpse at violent media. When she takes down numerous grown-up opponents with a ninja’s quickness, it is not met with excitement on her face, or followed up with a zinging piece of dialogue. The violence that she participates in does not come from a lust for blood, but desperation to make it all stop.
That being said, Hanna isn’t the usual action thriller, especially when considering American standards for that genre. It’s very capable of offering some great action (the overall amount is aplenty), yet at the same time it can be just as intensely quiet, embracing subtlety as if it were a whole different creature. More correlative to the pacing of a movie like Run Lola Run than a lazy association like Kick-Ass, Hanna is a movie that books it with all of its might during some scenes, as fueled by pulsating adrenaline from the Chemical Brothers. During other moments, walks coolly away from its violent aspects.
Constantly thoughtful when working through somewhat familiar emotional and physical territories, Hanna rarely fails to sneak up and surprise its audience.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10