Sunday, November 13, 2011


I enjoyed Hanna, but it was a film that relied on its style alone more than almost any I've seen in a long time. Director Joe Wright is known for his serious period dramas, but Hanna is very different. It's an action movie; a revenge thriller where the protagonists are always on the run and trying to get back at the person who wronged them years ago. Eric Bana is a former CIA operative who has been raising his daughter played by Saoirse Ronan in the woods, and training her her whole life for one mission, to kill a woman from the same organization responsible for her mother's death. Hanna is not only a very adept hunter and fighter, she's also unusually strong for her age and fluent in many languages. The secretive nature of her past and larger-than-life skill set hint toward the inevitable plot revelations, ones I won't spoil here but which are pretty easily guessed at and honestly not kept all that secret.

I think if I played fewer video games, I might have enjoyed the story of Hanna more. But as it is, the concepts it deals with are very familiar to anyone who's spent some amount of time with the kind of outlandish stories that games trade in, or just pulpy genre fiction in general. The craft with which the film is made doesn't discount the familiarity of what it's doing. I also wasn't really thrilled by the subplot where Hanna learns what life outside the forest is like and comes to regret her upbringing, which is another idea that's very familiar and is hard to make interesting anymore. Also, while Bana and Ronan are both good in the movie, I really didn't like Cate Blanchett's work as the villain. The American accent she put on was pretty terrible, and the character in general wasn't as interesting as the movie wanted her to be.

Where the movie succeeds though is definitely in the presentation. Wright definitely has a handle on action, creating some memorable sequences that don't rely on super fast cutting to be exciting, and he knows what he's doing in the personal scenes as well. Two moments that definitely stood out were a pair of long takes that were gripping for their entire duration, even though I'm sure I spotted where a cut was masked in one of them. Apparently they're a trademark of his, and while most people can hold a camera in one place for a while or even move it through a crowd, it takes a lot of effort to shoot scenes like this in that style. It definitely reminded me of Children of Men, even though they weren't quite that impressive. Elsewhere, I generally liked the look of the film, even if the use of color was a bit over the top and places, and the score by The Chemical Brothers was as interesting as promised. Hanna is certainly a flawed movie, but it's a unique one, certainly worth a watch if you like to see a different take on the action genre.

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