Once upon a time in the snowy forests of Finland, there was a girl named Hanna who knew only her father, his training, and their simple cottage. When she came of age, Hanna decided it was time for her to see the outside world. Hanna sees Morocco, makes her first friend, and packs the morgue with baddie bodies.
Hanna‘s coming-of-age concoction of violence and innocence (via sad broken playgrounds and killers whistling kid tunes) is sure to make it an instant classic, next to Leon:The Professional and Unleashed (aka, Danny the Dog). The screenplay by Seth Lochhead and David Farr is a three course meal, serving amusing appetizers, delivering a dramatic duck (with slice of lemon), and action à la mode.
The fight sequences, though at times confusingly close, recall the first Bourne film (sans the shaky cam). One scuffle in particular will have you holding your breath, as it uses the long take to build tension rather than just to show off Hanna director Joe Wright did in his previous film, Atonement.
Such methods speak to Wright’s maturation as a director. During the opening sequences he utilizes dynamic shot composition with fluid movements to introduce the audience to the relationship between Hanna and her father; yet he can appropriately shift into faster cuts and stylistic flourish when chases ensue.
But these action pieces don’t stand alone by the choices of the director and editor, as they’re invigoratingly guided by the pumping themes of The Chemical Brothers. The duo lights the fuse and runs, letting their beats and the onscreen beatings marry into a pulsating crescendo that will get your blood moving.
If it weren’t for the development of Hanna as a real girl and not just a killing machine, Hanna would quickly fade into obscurity once the ad team walks away. But by showing Hanna’s introduction to the real world (not telling it) and having Saoirse Ronan to play the lost child, Hanna ensures there won’t be an apathetic audience. Supported by Eric Bana as Hanna’s father and Cate Blanchett as the enigmatic menace Marissa Wiegler, the whole film takes off.
It comes in for an unsteady landing in the final act, but considering the rest of the film’s accomplishments it’s completely forgivable. Along with 2010’s crop of films with awesome female characters (Winter’s Bone, Kick-Ass, Fish Tank), Hanna belongs on a watch list for all gals coming into womanhood as well as general action audiences.*
We go to the cinema to see something fresh, moving, and amazing. From the stunts, to Hanna’s journey, to the little quirks of the characters, this is how action/drama cinema is done, folks. See it while you can because the characteristically lazy Summer Blockbusters are just around the corner…
*And don’t worry gents, the film didn’t alienate this male viewer. Boys have The Goonies, The Sandlot, and The Monster Squad. It’s about time girls get some badasses on their side.