If you have a friend who keeps complaining that today’s movies are just endless remakes of the same thing, that there isn’t any originality left, they probably haven’t seen Hanna. It’s not that you haven’t seen this story before, you have, you’ve just never seen it like this.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a 16 year old girl, raised in isolation in the artic wilderness by her father Erik (Eric Bana). She’s never seen another living person and has learnt all that she knows from dictionaries and encyclopedias, she doesn’t even know what music sounds like. Her Father has trained her to be the perfect Assasin, brutal in every way, and he has done so for her to kill a woman named Marissa.
One day, he tells Hanna if she wishes to fulfill her mission and kill Marissa (Cate Blanchett) she need but flick the switch on a beacon and wait. She does, Erik leaves, and all hell breaks loose. Marissa is in fact a C.I.A. agent and she is fearful of Erik, he knows something she wants kept secret, and as such she sends deadly men to hunt him down. Instead they find Hanna, she looks sweet, innocent, but beneath her delicate silver hair is the hardest assassin they’ve ever seen.
It’s not an original concept, The Bourne Identity dealt with the morals and ethics behind being a hit man but Hanna takes it many steps further. A young beautiful 16 year old girl, as disarming as they come frequently fells men twice her size without hesitation or feeling. It’s a real challenge to enjoy the action sequences of this film given their cold calculation, but that’s the point I guess. Fortunately director Joe Writght matches the oddity of his central character with a finesse most films are found wanting for.
Watching the stylised sequences with the off beat electronic music is reminiscent of films like Run Lola Run. It’s clever and enjoyable without stripping the story of it’s ethical heart. There is one particular scene in a container yard that’s as skillfully executed as any big budget blockbuster action film, and hits harder than any explosions or over the top set pieces.
Saoirse Ronan is quite a capable actress and she handles the part of Hanna with a fair amount of maturity. She definitely is one of the better actresses of her generation, and what a pair to accompany her in Bana and Blanchett. Their both equally up to the task although they don’t get as much screen time. It’s a shame, especially as Blanchett’s Marissa is a very interesting character, you feel like you really wanted more of them.
Unfortunately that’s where at least my admiration of this film ends. The plot is largely skeletal, lacking any real substance. A great deal is left for you to fill in and while that generally works in thrillers of this nature there really is too much of it. It harmed my ability to relate to anyone in the film, and left me asking too many questions about everyone’s part in the story. The ending does embody this sense of questions left unanswered too. While I understand it, and understands what it’s trying to say, it’s really unsatisfying. A morality tale about a child raised to kill should go places, and this film ultimately ends the way it began – asking the same question.
Don’t let that be too much of a deterrence however, if you like action films and don’t mind ones that have a little brains and meaning, you will enjoy Hanna. There are a few moments that will stay with you for a while after the film, and for an action movie that’s high praise.