HANNA: The Film Babble Blog Review

HANNA (Dir. Joe Wright, 2011)


Little girls kicking ass – we need more of that, right? This movie seems to think so. It introduces Saoirse Ronan as the title character as she stalks an elk in an icy forest in Finland. She takes it down with a bow and arrow, but the animal still breathes as it lies on the ice in front of her.

“I just missed your heart,” Ronan says and then she produces a gun to finish off her prey.

Giant white letters on red announce HANNA, and we’re off. Ronan lives in a cabin in the woods with her father (Eric Bana) who is training her to be a lethal assassin, complete with aliases and backstories. Bana tells her that if she flips a switch on a transmitter he has, the CIA will instantly know their location and immediately come to capture them.

Ronan, with fierce determination, flips it saying “come and get me.”

Bana escapes, but Ronan is apprehended (not without a struggle, of course), taken to a safe house in Morrocco, and monitored by an evil CIA agent (Cate Blanchett, who appears to have modeled her American accent on Glenn Close).

Like Angelina Jolie in SALT, we are shown how bad ass Ronan is from how she can fight and kill her way out of a maximum security compound, so Blanchett and her men don’t have the girl for very long.

Ronan hitches a ride with a family of tourists that includes a chatty teenage girl (Jessica Barden), and her parents (Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams), as thugs led by the suave whistling Tom Hollander are closing in on her.

Also like in SALT, we learn that our protagonist is the result of a project to develop CIA super-operatives by altering their DNA.

This can’t really be a Spoiler! can it? I mean I felt like a scenario like that was in place before I walked in.

The only surprise I can think of is that it’s not based on some graphic novel.

HANNA has a real drive to it because of its incredible Chemical Brothers soundtrack. At first I thought it was going to be blah techno backing a la RUN LOLA RUN (which is definitely an influence), but it broadens into an immersive ultra-melodic experience full of snappy electronic beats, throbbing baselines, and eery vocalizing. It keep my feet a tapping throughout, and I had to download the soundtrack the second I got home.

Otherwise, I was a little bored by the familiarness of the action sequences (Lord knows we don’t need another subway platform fight in which a single man lays out a gang of heavies), and often felt the film seemed like it was stitched together from other movies (a little KILL BILL here, a little LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL there, a bit of BOURNE, some of the before mentioned RUN LOLA RUN, and sprinkled with SALT obviously.

Ronan compellingly carries the film; her performance undoubtedly tops her work in ATONEMENT (directed by Joe Wright), and THE LOVELY BONES. It’s a tough character to pull off convincingly, but she makes it seem effortless.

Blanchett and Bana acquit themselves well in their roles, but neither part is very distinctive or affecting. Their fates don’t really seem to matter much.

Still, HANNA is enough of a riveting ride to recommend, and it sports the year’s best soundtrack so far. If only it had more humanity, and inspired invention to it.

As anything but a serviceable on-the-surface action thriller, HANNA just misses the heart.

More later…

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