Review: Hanna

8 05 2011

Hanna Film Review

As a rule, I normally avoid films that compare themselves to other films, like “If you like Get Him to the Greek, you’ll love Arthur” etc. I think this disdain stems back to my childhood when I was addicted to Kung Fu movies. One day my mother came home with a video in hand and an incredilby proud look on her face. It appeared that a colleague at work had lent her a video called Karate Warrior and on the cover was the brazen statement “Move over Karate Kid, Karate Warrior has arrived”. Considering back then I would watch anything where someone was getting karate chopped, the following 120 minutes were some of the worst of my life. I can only assume the person who leant my mother the video either hated her or was mentally ill. It was dire.

With that in mind, it is understandable why my heart sank as I watched the promotional trailer for Hanna on television. After all, it looked incredibly exciting, gritty and had an international feel but at the end there it was this statement:

“This generation’s Leon

I think a movie should stand on it’s own merit but I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt. And I’m so glad I did.

Hanna tells the story of a young girl, played by Saoirse Ronan who is being trained in the wilderness of North Finland by her father, played by Eric Bana. It soon becomes apparent that apart from her father, Hanna has not had any contact with other people and has no prior knowledge of the civilised world. The audience then learns that she is being trained to kill sinister CIA agent Marissa played by Cate Blanchett.

The landscape quickly shifts a Hanna is taken from the arctic expanse to North African Desert and then to the urban griminess of backstreet Berlin. Each setting is more visually captivating than the last and I think it’s a credit to the cinematography and direction. This is director Joe Wright’s fourth major feature film which includes Atonement, another favourite of mine, but if you had to guess from watching Hanna, he handles the film’s depth of characters and technical detail like a director with dozens of major works to his name. At one point, Hanna encounters a funny English, liberal family who have a really entertaining dynamic with each other. I especially liked the daughter, who is vacuous but very funny and clearly a product of the 00’s consumer age. Despite being radically different, she and Hanna form a close bond.

Fairytale themes are interwoven within the storyline which are far superior to another film currently at your multiplex, Red Riding Hood. Brothers Grim and Red Riding Hood are drawn upon heavily in Hanna since she is a young girl, alone, finding her way to her Grandmother’s house whilst being pursued by the big bad wolf (Blanchett). Incidentally, Blanchett puts in an excellent performance as a cold hearted, selfish CIA agent. She is obsessed with her own interests and will do anything, including murder, to achieve them. She is assisted by Isaacs, the Hermaphrodite Sadist club owner played by the excellent Tom Hollander. If that sounds weird, it’s because it is.

But the standout performance without a doubt is from Ronan. In Hanna, she portrays an interesting paradox between a vulnerable young woman trying to find her identity – another similarity to Bourne (the identity part, not the young woman!) – and the awesome power and self-sufficiency of a trained assassin. Ronan’s acting ability defies her years and I can only see her stock getting higher.

Hanna grabbed me from the first scene and it didn’t slow down. Truth is, my whole rule about not going to see a film that compares itself to another film has fallen completely on it’s arse. This movie appears to be the exception to the rule as I love Leon and I can completely see how the two movies are similar. Stylistically for instance, there was a dark, edgy soundtrack (which I just found out is by the Chemical Brothers), excellent cinematography and imaginative camera work. No disrespect to Leon, but I think comparing Hanna to anything does it a huge disservice as it defies a set genre, combining a really heartfelt coming of age story with a gritty international spy thriller.







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