If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Director: Joe Wright
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett.
Running Time: 111 minutes
Genre: Drama | Action
Grab a pen and your notebook Mr Snyder; you could learn a thing or two about making an empowering feminist movie from Joe Wright, director of ‘Pride & Prejudice’, ‘Atonement’ and now ‘Hanna’ a darkly comic journey through the deranged psyche of a human being...and that’s just the director. Calling ‘Hanna’ absurd and out there, would be a gross understatement - but it’s all the better for it. It’s got buckets of style, stunts and Saoirse Ronan all accompanied by a human story about growing up, adapting and surviving. It’s packed full of style but director Joe Wright brings the substance, making ‘Hanna' a full compelling experience.
A teenage assassin raised in remote Finland is dispatched on a dangerous mission by her father, an ex-CIA operative, in this innovative action thriller from director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice). Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) may look like your typical teenage girl, but she's a trained killer who has spent her entire life preparing for one mission. Schooled in the arts of survival and killing by her mysterious father (Eric Bana), Hanna finally reaches the age when she must put her skills to the test, and sets out across Europe on a collision course with a cunning intelligence operative (Cate Blanchett) who has been awaiting her arrival for years. Later, as agents close in from all sides and Hanna finally gets her target in the crosshairs, the trained assassin uncovers some secrets from the past that stir the conscience she never knew she had, and cause her to question everything she has ever known.
The star of the movie, is unfortunately not its writing team. That’s not to say what’s here isn’t good; on the contrary this is a brilliantly written piece with superb dialogue and expert characterisation. It’s just, stripped of any real originality it comes across as more of a mash-up of other movies. If that’s you thing then jump on in, fans of Tarentino are likely to lap up the cultural references to films baring the same trademark style. It’s not gonna show up at next week’s book club but it serves its purpose, taking you to some far out places...and that’s where the fun begins.
Joe Wright has been somebody I’ve been championing for a while now, with the lukewarm reception of his last film ‘The Soloist’ knocking him down a few pegs; it’s great to see him reinvent himself so expertly. ‘Hanna’ is a career high for him and it’s easy to see why, expertly paced, brilliantly shot and exquisitely paced - ‘Hanna’ is ever iota the work of a master craftsman. The action sequences really shine, there outlandish and otherworldly but there so god damn inventive that you’ll need to tie your jaw shut not to gawp in awe. It’s this fiery passion for pushing the envelope that makes me cling to Wright for hope that this genre isn’t confided to the oversaturation of CG.
The cast is brilliantly assembled and the cogs run like clockwork. Ronan especially shows a fearless approach to acting, to the point where I’d half expect her to be doing most of her own stunts, Eric Bana is remorseful and compassionate if a tad underwritten, he’s absent for the most part so it’s not glaringly obvious that his character got the least attention in pre production. Blanchett is always phenomenal and even the bit roles are superbly fleshed out. Geek goddess Olivia Williams being the prime example.
Hanna’ is a beautiful film, vibrant, colourful action sequences juxtapose the dark nature of what’s going on, imagine mixing pixie sticks with a can of red bull then watching your favourite martial arts movie, you have this film. The score by the always fabulous Chemical Brothers also stands out especially, seamlessly accompanying the films with just enough subtly to really enjoy it.
Verdict: A daring, darkly comic and downright brutal experiment for Joe Wright that’s paid off a hundredfold. An absurd-sounding concept rendered wholly believable and thrilling by a fearless young actress and a director at the top of his game. ‘Hanna’ is the movie they show in film school, being compared to Zach Snyder’s ‘Sucker Punch’ on a ‘how to and how not to’ on female empowerment films. It’s elegant, emotive and kicks all kinds of ass. Even if the moustache twirling villains provide some unnecessary sniggers.
+ Saoirse Ronan is always phenomenal, and this is no different.
+ Its a career high for Joe Wright.
+ It puts films like ‘Sucker Punch’ in their place.
+ The action is tight and expertly directed.
- There are moments where the villains feel totally out of place.