CAPSULE: Hanna has been raised and trained by her father to be a perfect assassin, preparing for the battle he will have with his former employer, the CIA. Director Joe Wright takes a somewhat simple story and makes it complex in the editing and camera work. The action is strong and well filmed, but there really is not much in new ideas or ideas at all. Complex puzzle pieces fit together to make an overly simple and familiar picture. It only seems complex because Wright does not play fairly with the viewer. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
Hanna (played by Saoirse Ronan) is a lot like a female Jason Bourne. She did not just wake up one day like he did, but she knows nothing of her origins. She just knows that her father Erik (Eric Bana) has raised and trained her. To the viewer she seems to have a huge stock of knowledge and a high level of fighting and killing skills. Certainly she has levels one would not expect from her sixteen-year-old appearance. She does not know why she needs these skills but she does know that she will have to fight Marisa Vigler (Cate Blanchett), a CIA operative who wants to kill her father. She is trained for the fight in a forest in Northern Finland. When she is ready she must go out into the world alone and fight for her father and herself. This is a mission that will take her to Morocco and Germany. Much of the time she travels with an English family (parented by Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng). The script adds a bunch of bizarre characters, particularly villains, to add entertainment, but their eccentricities and sexual proclivities are rather gratuitous. Their peculiarity is just window dressing and a cheap form of characterization.
Rather than have a complex story, Wright takes a simple plot and uses his style to surprise the viewer and at times to intentionally obfuscate the action. Sequences start with the viewer not really sure what he is seeing. That frustration when relieved gives the viewer a feeling of accomplishment much as if he had understood a complex point in the plot. A sequence might open showing Ms. Blanchett cleaning her teeth. At times we see this in extreme close-up and clinical detail. Are we to believe she has some sort of a dental fetish? Or does it just prove that she is fastidious? It never seems to tie in to anything. What sense does it make? In another sequence Hanna has been carrying an arrow. She has no way to launch the arrow, but fire it she does. The camera is looking at something else, and the viewer never sees how the arrow is launched. The viewer is left to puzzle over this for only a beat and then something else is happening. At another point Hanna has killed an elk and it fell in the middle of a large snowy open space, five minutes' walk to the nearest visual obstruction. She stands over it, and Wright focuses the camera on her, and in from the side comes her father who has apparently invisibly snuck up on her. He is either the Invisible Man or she is not such a great assassin after all. Remove all this cruft and what is left is basically the three Bourne stories boiled down to one 111-minute film.
Wright's star Saoirse Ronan (as well as his art director Niall Moroney) is a veteran of Wright's ATONEMENT. In that film Ronan played a precocious young girl who discovered that she actually could do some real damage. Here she is a little older and can do a lot more damage. Blanchett is always good, but Bana could be a little more forceful. I have liked Olivia Williams since THE POSTMAN and "Dollhouse", but here she is not given much of interest to do.
In the end HANNA is more about its cinematic style than it is about its core plot. That story has been done before and better. Take away the look of the film and it is just an unimaginative and mindless action film. I rate HANNA a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0993842/
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/hanna/
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2011 Mark R. Leeper