Joe Wright’s trippy little “action film” seems to have begun as a straightforward high-concept no-brainer — teen girl, raised by father just inside the Arctic circle, is a survivalist wunderkind with a backstory just waiting to be booted up. And, sure enough, a few minutes in dad (Eric Bana, with a German accent) digs up a transponder, asks his daughter if she’s really ready, and she flips the switch to transmit.

Cue their rapid departure, the arrival of secret super-spy teams led by twisty clearly-evil Marissa (Cate Blanchett, with an American-Southern accent), and set things running. There’s an awful lot of running, which even the Chemical Brothers can’t fully justify. Hanna (Saiorse Ronan, playing in a bunch of languages) is Candide via Jason Bourne. There are some great action set-pieces–many pastiches of various of Wright’s influences, but all filmed with joy and wit and aforementioned thumping techno soundtrack, even if it’s a bit long, not terribly tight.

Wright gave the genetic blueprint for this story–all too familiar–some great goosing from Grimms’ fairy tales, and it’s filmed with all kinds of digressive style, too. I loved Ronan, loved the energy of the film, enjoyed its willingness to play by the rules and its equally firm commitment to perverse dislocations. It’s a bit too quilted–there’s a Kubrick fetish I kind of dig, but you can see a lot of the stitching, and the film could probably have used another script revision, or even better a willingness to go a lot more strange. (There’s an aggravating subtext about the evils of the childless witchy Marissa that could go away. Let her be the wolf; Blanchett doesn’t need to be saddled with the tired trope of the barren feminine.) But mostly the film is a sign of filmmakers in love with all kinds of genre films, and it’s definitely worth a look.

4 thoughts on “Hanna

  1. Absolutely right. Hanna operates at so many different levels. On the surface, it is just preposterous, and impossible to take seriously (how does learning to disembowel a reindeer help once Hanna is back in the modern world, and is it possible to be in a spy thriller and not know how to use a cell phone or computer, or know what TV is?). But the sense of whimsy is wonderful. The psychopathic German assassin played by Tom Hollander, the Grimm character played by Jason Flemying, and above all the English family that Hanna travels with (especially Olivia Williams), are all so compelling on the screen. It plays better as an “on the road” movie than a thriller. Very enjoyable.

  2. watched it tonight, and quite enjoyed it too. preposterous, indeed, but plays as entirely plausible within its own frame, which i think means it’s well made. joe wright should stop making crappy austen adaptations and other oscar bait and specialize in this kind of thing. yes, there’s too much running. 35% less running would have made this a much better movie. i also agree with chris that the best parts of this film were the road sequences with the english family (though i cannot agree with him that jason flemying played anyone other than the father in that family; unless, chris, you saw the father as a grimm’s fairy tale character too). when you first meet them you think you’re being set up to find them ridiculous but they’re actually kind of endearing. all except the little bastard boy who rats hanna out; fuck him–i hope he was used as target practice by hollander’s character. (speaking of which, i had to pause the movie to go check hollander’s height on wikipedia. 5’5″ is not so very short–was the character meant to be even shorter? he certainly seemed a lot shorter than that.)

  3. There’s a four-minute tracking shot which concludes with an elaborate fight sequence in a subway station that is an extraordinary display of technical ingenuity. That scene alone is worth the price of admission.

  4. That tracking shot blew me away. It is such a discordant film. Flashes of genius wrapped up in some truly silly conceits. But I have watched it three times all the way through, and some scenes several more times, and I like it more and more each time.

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