Hanna (2011)

Posted in Reviews by - July 20, 2012
Hanna (2011)

British director Joe Wright takes a brief departure from literary adaptations (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement) to enter the realms of the action movie. The film is a graceful if familiar attempt to add depth to an established formula. There are shades of Lady Snowblood in the basic premise of a reclusive female assassin, trained by a banished fatherly figure (Eric Bana). Cate Blanchett is a double-crossing secret agent spinster with an awkward southern drawl (think Texas by way of Sydney) who is dementedly dedicated to the young girl’s destruction. At the age of 16, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan, brilliant) leaves her snowy Alaskan hideaway for a life on the run, experiencing the secular world through her burgeoning adolescence – discovering music and culture, exploring her sexuality – while having to defend herself against some particularly nasty German thugs (led by Tom Hollander in tennis shorts) who pursue the teenager from North Africa through Western Europe and into Berlin at a rendezvous with her father. The central conceit makes for textbook exploitation fodder, but Wright’s sensitive approach to Hanna’s self discovery is handled well and played with great coyness by the young Ronan. She manages to balance physical poise with the emotional burden of being a troubled youth cursed by a denigrated past, all of which helps to ratify the film’s fisticuffs.

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