movie review: Hanna

Hanna opens with a bang and sustains both its extraordinary energy and its central enigma for quite a while. If, ultimately, there is a little bit less here than meets the eye, the high-octane action and a riveting performance by Saoirse Ronan still make the film worth seeing.Since her breakthrough role in Atonement four years ago (also directed by Joe Wright), this teenager has proven herself to be a world-class talent. She carries much of Hanna on her slender shoulders, bringing the necessary physicality and soulfulness to the story, by Seth Lochhead and David Farr.

Hanna has been raised by her father (the always-watchable Eric Bana, here playing a German) in the snowy wilds of Finland, where he has indoctrinated her with fundamental, take-no-prisoners survivalist training. She can kill a deer with a bow and arrow, eviscerate it and prepare it for dinner without batting an eyelash. On the other hand, she has never been exposed to—

— the outside world and her only frame of reference is an aging book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. As she is growing up, Dad decides that it’s time for her to leave their cloistered cabin—if she can stay one step ahead of the CIA agents who are going to be on her tail (and her father’s), in particular a hard-nosed Langley veteran played, with a broad American accent, by Cate Blanchett.

Hanna jolts us out of our familiar world. We share its leading character’s emotional and physical odyssey as she runs, leaps, hides, and burrows her way through several countries. Along the way she tries to understand who she is, where she came from, and what her connection is to the dogged Blanchett.

Unfortunately, as Hanna comes to a climax its edgy originality diminishes. The physical production, and spare music score by The Chemical Brothers, is impressive from start to finish, but the story wrap-up is somewhat predictable and the movie winds up like a conventional, violent chase-thriller. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it seems a shame the film can’t end with the same impact that marks its opening scenes.

What doesn’t erode in any way is one’s admiration for Saoirse Ronan, who can hold her own with Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, or any other talented actor you care to name. If we’re rating this strictly as a vehicle for her, Hanna hit’s a bull’s-eye.


  1. dave says:

    why even use the transponder? doesnt make any sense. why get some random gay german dude to track her? he is evidently not great at getting her because she escapes from him several times. makes even less sense than the transponder.

  2. Jarod says:

    This movie was all style and extremely little substance. I found the numerous homages to Tarantino’s Kill Bill inappropriate and unnecessary, but mostly artistically impotent. Apparently the only thing filmmakers of today can pull-off is combining elements from a couple movies here and a couple movies there and making what is essentially a simulation of other movies.

    I’m getting so fed up and drowsy over the notion that idiosyncratic characters should be deemed artistically meritable. One villain in the movie whistles constantly, like Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill, even when he’s pursuing the Hanna character, which makes absolutely no sense. And Cate Blanchett’s accent in the movie inexplicably wavers from southern rube to veritable cockney, for no reason.

    Violence is treated like something cool and hip. Is it really? I don’t know about you, but when I go to a film, I expect it to be applicable to so-called reality. This movie sucks.

  3. janey says:

    why couldn’t erik let hanna go without settingthe transponder thing off, if he loved her they could have lived peacefully as father and daughter anonymously forever….?

  4. Jamal says:

    i loved this film. i agree that Ronan’s performance is top notch. I would love to hear feedback on various opinions on the symbolism of the deer and the line “I just missed your heart”.

  5. tom says:

    Saw this last night and enjoyed it thoroughly. Saorise (pronounced: sur-shuh) Ronan is amazing to watch and the filming and style of story telling is unique. It’s interesting to watch the interplay between her and Cate Blanchett who has the same kind of beauty as Saorise in adult form. I predict even greater things for her as she matures. I agree that the ending gets a little tired but it’s still quite satisfying. For me the true test of a movie is whether I want to see it again right away. I want to see this again…right away!

  6. Jason says:

    I look forward to seeing this. Too bad that it could’ve been better but still sounds like a good movie!

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