Oct 24, 2011

[Movies] Hanna (2011)

Hanna (2011)Many movies start with the simplest of concepts and then they just try to expound and elaborate on it. Sometimes this results in some pretty compelling stories. Other times it ends up feeling like a cheap gimmick of sorts. It's hit or miss really. Many will argue that it's because the end result becomes too simple that the movie fails. Others will claim things didn't pan out well because the movie had too much going on and should have been edited down.

At first I thought this movie was a one-trick pony - an entire story build around a girl being rather kick-ass. And we've seen a lot of movies like this. For example, the Tomb Raider franchise is a combination of kick-ass girl plus ridiculous breasts. So it took a while before my partner and I got around to watching this particular movie.

But thankfully it surprised us - and in a very good way mind you. Despite a premise that could have easily gone into a very, very bad direction, it actually had a fairly compelling story to go along with its rather excellent cast. And that says a lot about the sort of entertainment muscle that pushed this movie into theaters. I'm surprised it didn't make more waves in fact - probably more because of lackluster movie marketing prior to release or something. Anyway.

Hanna is a 2011 action thriller directed by Joe Wright with a screenplay by David Farr and Seth Lochhead. Wright's other works include movies like Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, strangely enough.

Hanna - Eric Bana and Saoirse RonanImage by WorthingTheatres via FlickrHanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a 16 year old girl living with her father Erik Heller (Eric Bana) somewhere in Finland. Surprisingly Erik has been training Hanna to be a fearless assassin since she was very young as part of some larger scheme. But now Erik feels that she is finally ready and provides her with a transmitter which will reveal their location to their enemies. He leaves it to Hanna to ultimately flick the switch, which she eventually does.

So now we meet Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), who works with the CIA. Upon discovering the signal, she dispatches a team to Finland to apprehend Erik, who used to work for the agency as well. But instead of bringing back the man she had been tasked to eliminate many years ago, the team instead finds Hanna and manages to bring her back with a number of casualties. So now Marissa is left to figure out who Hanna is and where Erik has disappeared to. All the while Hanna waits to fulfill her part of the mission so that she can eventually return to her father.

It's hard to imagine that the Saoirse Ronan we saw in this movie was the same annoying girl in Atonement and the same mature and defiant girl we saw in City of Ember. This time around she does a stellar job of playing the role of a girl who was practically brainwashed since birth to kill. My partner likes to compare the character of Hanna to Cassandra Cain, one of the more violent people to take on the mantle of Batgirl (and later Black Bat). And that comparison sort of works given the silent intensity Ronan brings to the movie. She really is the lead star here and she carries that role beautifully.

While Eric Bana was just a bunch of meaty window dressing (but undeniably fun to look at when scruffier), the only other strong character in the movie would probably be Cate Blanchett. While some might argue that she had a rather shallow, one-dimensional character to play here but I still felt that she did a stellar job despite the limited writing supporting her role. Her presence in the movie is undeniable and she really brings something else entirely to the picture. She is the true villain - simple in motivation and willing to do just about anything to fulfill her goals. And in that sense she really does work.

The story wasn't overly complicated and the manner in which is was eventually revealed was fairly interesting. It's not a straight out narrative, as is appropriate to spy thrillers like this one. Instead it's a tale that's revealed in flashes and glimpses - a story where you're given a lot of the pieces and it's up to you as a viewer to put everything together. And that does help make the movie fairly rewarding even if it's to be expected that a lot of folks will not get the full story or will just figure the action is more worth the time than the plot.

Hanna is a fun movie with dazzling visuals and a strong young actress at its center. For me it gets 4 practically superhuman kills out of a possible 5.

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