Hannah – Movie Review
Once upon a time, there was a very special girl who lived in the woods with her father…
In the frozen forests of Finland, said special girl (Saoirse Ronan) is hunting a reindeer with bow and arrow. She wounds the animal, and as it runs itself out and slumps to the ground she states matter-of-factly that she missed the animal’s heart, then puts it out of its misery by killing it with a luger.
This is Hanna, and she is not a girl to be trifled with.
As Hanna butchers the reindeer she is attacked by a man, who we quickly learn is her father Erik (Eric Bana). He has been living with Hanna off the grid in a primitive, harsh yet oddly fairytale fashion since she was a child, educating and brutally training her to be ready to kill a single target; CIA Operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) for reasons unknown.
One day, Hanna tells her father that she is ready, and he produces an old transmitter that when activated will bring Marissa Wiegler to them. Hanna eventually activates the transmitter, Erik goes on the run with assurances that he will meet her in Berlin, and Hanna waits for her mission to begin…
When the trailer was released for this film in late 2010 it certainly got attention. A young girl assassin story framed like a fairytale, showing an excellent cast and displaying the setting as an austere yet heightened spy-thriller reality. All good stuff, but you could still easily mess that premise up. Fortunately they don’t, and what has been delivered is a crisp, fast paced action thriller.
Director Joe Wright has only made three feature length films prior to this, two of which I’ve seen and disliked. His adaptation of Pride & Prejudice was pointless, bringing nothing new to the table (aside from Darcy being a Ninja and the Bennett Sisters secretly being spies for the French!) and reminding everyone just how great the ’90s BBC version was (like that was really needed though). Atonement is a film that had me howling with rage once the credits started rolling; a reprehensible film for the morality of its storytelling with overly hyped cinematography that was a waste of time for the talent involved. Wright does a much better job here, displaying his music video roots to reasonably good effect and translating that experience well to action scenes.
The cast does an excellent job; Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna like a stray cat whilst being a sympathetic and infinitely watchable killing machine, doing well with drama and the difficult physicality of the action scenes. Eric Bana has to do a lot but say little, but he does a great job conveying emotion and exposition with brevity, and he gets some brutal and fantastic fight scenes. Cate Blanchett’s villainess is almost a one note character, but she has to be. Wiegler continues the fairytale motif, acting as the Wicked Stepmother to Hanna, and some of the cinematography makes her look absolutely terrifying in that capacity. Tom Hollander, Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams round out the big name cast respectively as a hitman, and a husband and wife travelling with their children that Hanna latches onto. I also have to make mention of Martin Wuttke as Knepfler, an ally of Erik’s that Hannah meets at the end. He’s a wonderful old clown, who performs magic tricks to delight the sheltered Hanna and proves himself to be an excellent forger too. It’s a pity we didn’t get more of this wonderful character.
The story is good; simple and clichéd in the best sense, but kept moving at a fast pace to get the exposition out there and move on to the next plot point. After seemingly completing her mission, Hanna goes on the run and finds herself experiencing the world as she tries to reunite with her father whilst learning more about her past and where she came from. Script wise, this a lean film, with virtually none of the running time wasted.
The cinematography is for the most part good, and manages to convey the heightened sense of reality that Hanna and some other characters seem to experience. This is enhanced further by the score, director Wright brought in his former collaborators The Chemical Brothers to write the music for the film, and they do a great job delivery a hard hitting electronica soundtrack with a distinctive European feeling.
The one fault I have with the film is that it doesn’t take the hyper-realism far enough. It feels like Wright either panicked and reined it in, or his cinematographer got lazy and didn’t follow through. This is particularly noticeable in the scenes where the CIA sends soldiers to find Erik in Finland. With this genre of film, and particularly with this soundtrack, this film should have just gone crazy, and taken the feel of the film to insane levels.
This gets a “Cool” from me. It’s an compelling action thriller with a great cast and a neat story that’s just pleasantly weird enough to make it stand out from the competition.
Have you seen Hannah? Where did you last see her? No i don’t mean Hannah Montana… Well maybe… Anyway leave feedback!
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