Hanna (2011)

Hanna (2011)
  • Time: 111 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Thriller
  • Director: Joe Wright
  • Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana


Hanna (Ronan) is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a soldier; these come from being raised by her father (Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (Blanchett). As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity.


  • Marissa, did she turn out as you hoped?
    Marissa: “Better.”

    I had no idea what to expect from this movie. I’m not the type that reads opinions upfront as a guide. Usually it’s the opposite of what I thought anyway.

    Hanna, beautifully played by Saoirse Ronan, was trained for years by her father in Finland to perform a task which is to liquidate Marissa Wiegler. This cold lady was the one who killed her mother because she had to make sure that there were no witnesses anymore of a secret experiment with DNA. An experiment in order to grow a superior human being. A kind of super-soldier. Hana was the last witness.
    Well, that’s the whole story in a nutshell. I also expected a kind of “Jason Bourne”-like spy thriller with lots of action and suspense. However, it didn’t work out that way.

    First there were a few things that I still had some questions about. If that was the only goal she had to fulfill, why didn’t she just return to the snowy plains? What was Erik’s goal in Germany? Why the hell would you inform your target about your actions by means of the transmitter? Was it just to start things up and it just was a trick so she would be detained? As a super-soldier, maybe I would have handled it differently. How come she reacts so frantic when it’s about electricity, while she has an encyclopedic knowledge about all kinds of things? An itinerant family meets her in the middle of the Sahara and won’t ask her any question? Wouldn’t you as a teenager tell your parents? What happened to the family in the end ? And something what really was a bit odd was the fact that she could eliminate commandos in an extremely precise way, but the confrontation with two brainless skinheads and an asthmatic fag, suddenly appears to be a huge obstacle ?Clear. A story with plot-holes as large as the galaxy. But still …

    Yet this was a gem of a movie. Why? Because it’s all shown, filmed and told in a different way like most action-espionage thrillers. The opening scenes in the bleak landscape of Finland were sublime. From there the movie attracted my attention and didn’t let go. The images of the desert and Morocco were magnificent and desolate as they should be. The maze of corridors and tunnels in the underground base gave a disorienting feeling. The city of Berlin was shown in such a way you could feel the chaos and obscurity of that metropolis.

    The whole film has an art deco, experimental and surreal tint. At times I thought it was a complete freak-show and a split second later I thought it was brilliant. The character Hanna is sophisticated. A fragile girl that DNA-wise was programmed into a cool effective killing machine. Her cold-blooded accuracy in actions is in contrast with those bright blue eyes that are sometimes shown in close up and shows just how vulnerable she is.

    Erik is a former CIA agent and “That’s it”. He shows no emotions or feelings. A focal point in his life and a main goal to perform. Marissa is a weird twisted plastic figure who brushes her teeth until they bleed. A subtle detail to show that she pursues perfection in everything she does. A tough cookie to kill what is clearly noticeable in the underground base. She always was a step ahead. Knepler is a weirdo who just crawled from under a mushroom. A clown looking like Catweazle.

    Isaacs and his two stupid hopping mad skinheads look totally wrong and ridiculous, but still fit into the whole picture. Isaacs in his tracksuit and laughable tennis outfit looks totally ridiculous. And the family in the dessert is a parody of new-age parents with a snobby teenage daughter. Hilarious in a specific way.

    So it is the overall picture of Kubrick-like surrealistic images, mixed in a dark and obscure “The Chemical Brothers” soundtrack, that made this such an interesting movie. A surreal tale full of symbolism in which the choreography and the camera-moves brings the whole to a higher level. The action scenes were not technical feats, but were not important in the overall scheme of the film. They were pleasant interruptions in this for the rest very arty film.


  • If there is one thing that Hanna proves, it is that Joe Wright is actually quite a versatile director. After doing period pieces with classical overtones such as the acclaimed Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007), and a modern story about a friendship between a journalist and a musician in The Soloist (2009), he tackles mainstream action cinema with a tinge of indie credibility.

    Out comes Hanna, an action-thriller that is hard to classify as a traditional Hollywood popcorn movie. It is uniquely done, though inspired by a host of films that have come before it. It is technically brilliant but it is not a brilliant film.

    Hanna stars Saoirse Ronan as the young title character. She is raised by her father Erik (Eric Bana) to be a ruthless assassin in a secluded snow-capped mountainous region. An American intelligence agent, Marissa (Cate Blanchett), and her operatives attempt to find and kill her fugitive father, while Hanna must discover the sinister truth of her existence.

    The story plays out quite straightforwardly, but its execution is far from conventional. The characters are stereotypical, but at least they are intriguing. Ronan’s performance here is mature and at times breathtaking; there is no doubt of her ability to front a film of this nature.

    Hanna is like Run Lola Run (1998) meets M (1931) meets Leon: The Professional (1994). But it’s not as memorable as any of those films. The constantly moving camera coupled with the tight, frenzied editing style provide Wright’s film with a dose of energy that miraculously does not dissipate.

    The film is highly engaging, though it is due more in part to its frenetic, and at times, surrealistic visual style than its narrative. The violence is impactful but mostly off-screen. There is a trademark long take by Wright that sees Erik followed by armed agents into an empty subway where he overcomes them effortlessly.

    The action is realistic for most parts, except for a single shot at the start of the second act that sees Hanna escaping from an underground bunker through a man-made hole in the middle of the desert. Incredibly, she latches onto the underneath of a fast moving vehicle like Spidergirl. Any more “believe it or not” moments like that, and I would have been disappointed.

    To make his film more kick-ass, Wright temporarily relinquishes the services of classy composer Dario Marianelli and opts for electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers to score Hanna. Their music not only packs a punch, it also captures the fairy tale-like whimsicality of the film, especially of its second hour.

    I must admit though that any effort by the filmmakers to develop the human emotional drama in the film is rather futile in the wake of the superb, overwhelming technical artistry on show. While the acting is considerably strong for an action picture, its treatment of the characters and their relationships with each other remain distanced from the viewer.

    This is what gives Hanna its major flaw, which is not much of a big deal if you are in for the thrill, excitement, and fun. Does anyone fancy Wright teaming up with Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, 2010) to produce Hanna v. Hitgirl: The Battle of Daddy-Trained Young Girls, to be directed by who else but Quentin Tarantino?

    GRADE: B (7.5/10)

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