Hanna

Rating:

Run, Hanna, Run

Main Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett

Director: Joe Wright

I have a soft spot for movies that make good use out of bitter cold and deep snow. Winter can be both a setting and a character and the beginning of the Joe Wright directed action film Hanna filled me with hope, taking great advantage of a frozen Scandinavian landscape. If only he had decided to stay in the great white north.

Hanna is primarily the story of a girl (Saoirse Ronan) raised by her father (Eric Bana) on the frozen tundra. Young Hanna is a teenager trained her whole life to survive. Not just survive in the wild, but survive attempts on her life. She can go toe to toe with her much larger father in a fight, has extraordinary reflexes and is generally a disheveled, isolated killing machine.

The bulk of the movie takes place not in the frozen winter, but in the aftermath of Hanna’s decision to confront that which she has been training to destroy her entire life. She knows that with the push of a simple button a woman named Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) will be able to find her. If that happens, Hanna is dead. She doesn’t know precisely why, but she knows that when the time comes for her to leave her isolated world her first undertaking must be to kill this woman. Shortly after we enter the story Hanna decides that she is ready and the chase is on.

For the first two thirds of the movie, Hanna remains a tight thriller wrapped around an interesting story of a girl not only fighting her way to her destiny but also absorbing an entire world of experiences she didn’t really know existed. In her isolation Hanna has had no exposure to electricity or music or some of the very basic things we so take for granted. With her heightened ability to adapt to threatening situations she is able to absorb the new input and finds herself beginning to enjoy the first bit of freedom she has ever known. She is on this journey alone – she and her father parted ways shortly after she pressed that fateful button in order to increase her chances of survival. It isn’t only Hanna that Marissa will be after.

Saoirse Ronan by Romina Espinosa

Saoirse Ronan

In those first two acts director Wright manages to fairly deftly intertwine Hanna’s exploration of the world with the intrigue and action of multiple attempts to kill her. He brings in Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng as English hippie philosophizing parents who take Hanna under their wings without questioning her abrupt appearance in a Moroccan desert as their daughter (Jessica Barden) teaches her the more practical aspects of being a teenager. He also brings in a fabulous Tom Hollander as the assassin Isaacs, a ruthless man in a series of pristine track suits who is both comical and terrifying.

After we breeze through those first two acts, learning some intriguing information about Hanna’s genetic make-up as well as enjoying both her personal growth and her asskicking skills the movie suddenly grinds to a screeching halt. More precisely, it runs and runs and runs into a tedious mess of chase scenes that lead exactly nowhere. Character development ceases, plot lines are tied in simplistic bows and disposed of all in the name of the grand chase. Unfortunately the chase is boring. There’s really just a whole lot of running, abrupt killing and then more running. Not a single plot twist, nothing to make any of it interesting. Any and all peripheral characters that added flavor to the first part of the movie are abandoned and we’re left with just Marissa and Hanna battling it out. Yawn.

Eric Bana

Eric Bana

It’s a waste, really. The first two acts of the movie hold so much promise that is simply flushed away for the sake of mindless action. The novelty of seeing the slight Ronan beat the crap out of bigger opponents wears thin as do the machinations of the villainous Marissa.

Ronan and Blanchett more than carry their weight given the material. Blanchett is beautifully snake-like in her menace and Ronan does a very nice job playing a lost girl with all sorts of skills but not an ounce of knowledge of the real world. Bana has almost nothing to do as father Erik, which is a shame. Not only is he a babe, but he also has a grave presence in those initial scenes with his daughter as the two struggle with their decision that it’s time for Hanna to face the world.

Overall, Hanna starts strong but flounders in the end. It’s an interesting concept and initially well executed but the characters and plot are all but abandoned to mindless action for the final third of the movie. 2 stars.

photos by David Shankbone and Romina Espinosa

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