Holy Hanna!!!

Holy Hanna!!!

Worth It
Sep 27, 2011
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Hell hath no fury like a young woman trained by her rogue-CIA operative father to assassinate specific targets! Hanna is the story of a teenage girl who has lived in seclusion with only her father for her whole life. Erik (Eric Bana) has been busy training her to become the ultimate fighting machine. Why? At first, see it’s a mystery. But through this brilliant screenplay we eventually learn of the deeper layers in their past as the movie pulses forward at a mid-tempo, capsule but steady rate.

At it’s heart, Hanna is an intimate tale of a girl growing up. Being secluded her whole childhood, one would imagine her journey into the real world would be a challenge, to say the least. And, indeed, it is. At the same time, she has been trained to behave in a very determined and calculated way. In someways she’s like a robot. But because she is actually a human being we see a beautiful evolution unfold as she is befriended by other kids, meets a boy and seeks to learn about her past. Saoirse Ronan, who plays Hanna, is extraordinary as she balances this complex character with innocence and ferocity. And yes, she is frighteningly brutal in the fight sequences. Awesome stuff!

The tale of espionage and international intrigue is equally compelling. But, while the fabric of the plot is sewn together with this tale of covert operations, the filmmakers never allow Hanna to take a backseat. The action, when it happens, is freakin’ amazing, but it’s not long before we get back to this 16 year old girl wrestling with powers far more interesting than gangs and assassins. As well, Cate Blanchett’s character (the CIA “bad-guy”,  Marissa Wiegler) simmers to a boil as the film moves steadily to it’s exciting conclusion.

Some other elements I loved about this film are the soundtrack by the Chemical Brothers (perfect for the movie), the European sensibility of story-telling, and the wonderfully subtle imagery throughout. That said, Hanna is not without it’s flaws. My main beef was with the writing of Erik’s character. He is painted as an obsessively careful spy and yet he makes silly mistakes that the average person wouldn’t be guilty of. Midway through the film, it is firmly established that Erik is being hunted by many a crafty CIA henchmen. However, he foolishly makes a surprise visit to his mother-in-law (we can only summate this was an “emotional” lapse of judgement). Of course, this puts her in harm’s way and threatens his plan by possibly placing information in the hands of the enemy. It was completely out of line for Eric Bana’s character. Other than a few flaws like that, this film is exciting, refreshing and unlike most everything out there these days. Skillfully shot, beautifully acted and very clever.

British director, Joe Wright, has only made a handful of films, most very well-received. However, Hanna seems to be a braver, riskier and more layered film than anything he’s done before. He is certainly a director who, I imagine, will only continue to challenge himself as an artist and create wonderful films of beauty and intelligence. If they’ll be anything like Hanna, I look forward to his future projects.

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Craig the Critic

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