Directed by Joe Wright, Written by Seth Lochhead and David Farr, 111 minutes, Rated PG-13.
By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz
“Hanna” isn’t your typical action movie. From its star to its low-key electronic soundtrack, the film sharply contrasts usual shoot-em-up fare. Gravitating between the story of an assassin born to kill and a young girl coming of age, Joe Wright delivers a fascinating look at what we expect from action movies, subverts those expectations, while also playing to them.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is the name of our hero. Born into a life of hunting and running, her father (Eric Bana) raised her to become a well-oiled killing machine, testing her abilities to adapt and survive in the harsh wintry climates of Finland. Her past, kept secret for fear that a team of mysterious captors would come to their cabin and kill her and her father.
However, all children must one day leave the nest, and when Hanna decides to live a life outside of her cabin, she makes a choice to signal her captors and make a run for it.
From here, the film takes on a variety of point-of-views. The first, and most important, is Hanna’s. She escapes to Germany where, for the first time, she experiences a world totally unlike her own. Hanna uses electricity for the first time, in one disorienting and frightening scene, as well as makes her first friend, a fellow teenage girl named Sophie (Jessica Barden).
All the while, two teams pursue her: Her father in his desperate attempt to reconvene with Hanna, and Marissa (Cate Blanchett), her father’s former partner, who has a mysterious interest in the young assassin.
Hanna’s journey isn’t merely marked by her interest in other cultures--all of which remain foreign to her--but also her survival. Marissa and her cohorts go on a murderous rampage in their pursuit of the girl, taking apart anyone who stands in their way.
Wright makes this distinction through his quick transitions, manic camera work, and versatile soundtrack provided by the Chemical Brothers. The director keeps the two stories (Hanna’s coming of age and Hanna’s survival) cleverly intertwined, allowing her to handle these changes in her own way. She kills her attackers and openly accepts her newfound friendships.
The film keeps up this energy through this division. As one starts to slow down, usually when Hanna’s joy takes over, the other will quickly jog us back to the chase. It’s a balancing act the stars, particularly the young Saoirse Ronan, who takes on her first starring role magnificently, keep up with emotion and energy.
There are some slight pacing problems towards the middle, but, for the most part, the film tackles the tricky subject in a new and interesting way. “Hanna” delivers the action to those in the mood for gunplay with insight sorely missing in today’s action films.