In “Hanna” Saoirse Ronan plays the title character who lives in isolation with her father Erik (Eric Bana) in the snow-covered forests of Finland. While there, he’s instructs her in methods of survival and trains her in hand-to-hand combat which immediately let’s you know there is more going on under the surface. Hanna finds out she has been trained to kill Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), a corrupt CIA agent who has a history with Erik. But after setting out on her mission things go wrong and Hanna finds herself running for her life while trying to piece together who she really is and where she came from.
Ronan again proves she is one of the top young acting talents in film today. She’s simply magnificent as the sheltered but lethal Hanna. She captures the conflict within Hanna through some tender scenes that show her innocent curiosity and some intense action sequences that show the violent nature of her training. Hanna hasn’t experienced any of the modern conveniences or technologies of today and it truly feels as if you are watching her enter a whole new world. It’s also great to see Eric Bana giving a good performance in a very nice role for him. But the usually solid Cate Blanchett is surprisingly inconsistent as C.I.A. agent Wiegler. She sometimes comes across as unconvincing and her odd southern accent seems to come and go. But overall this is Ronan’s show and she is fantastic.
Director Joe Wright starts the film with a bang and keeps it moving at a break-neck pace. It never loses it’s frantic energy or momentum. The gritty techno soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers isn’t overused and, along with the quick camera cuts and sharp angles, contributes to the overall feel of the picture. “Hanna” moves from one country to another and is filmed in some beautiful locations including Finland, Germany, and Morocco. There’s also a unique style to the way “Hanna” is made. At times it has an almost fantasy feel to it due to the way it’s shot and edited. Other times it shows some pretty standard elements from other action/revenge thrillers.
But the film does have a few issues. Throughout the picture you feel there is more to the story than there really is. The abrupt ending is satisfying in one sense but it’s also conventional and predictable. The tension that nicely builds up seems a little hollow as the film reveals itself to be nothing more than a high-octane action/chase picture. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good action/chase picture. But “Hanna” seemed to be breaking away from the traditional action movie formula. Unfortunately it doesn’t see it through to the end.
The few gripes aside, “Hanna” is a fun and stylish movie as well as a showcase for young Saoirse Ronan. I can’t say enough about her performance. And while Blanchett’s performance is a little distracting and the ending may be somewhat of a letdown, it doesn’t kill the film. There’s many other things to like about “Hanna” and many things that separates it from most action thrillers. So sit down, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. I know I did.
Great review Keith but I really wasn’t sold on the whole thing. I seem to be in the minority though. Here’s my thoughts if want to take a peek? http://mrmarakai.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/hanna-12/
I read your review. Good stuff. I originally wrote my review for “Hanna” after seeing it in the theaters. But maybe I need to revisit it. It was interesting to see that we both noticed some of the same things about the film.
Yeah, I noticed that as well. We seem to pick out the same points. I took it from a more negative angle but I think that’s because I expected a far sight more. This was one of my most anticipated films of recent years but it let me down badly. As I say again though, people do disagree with me. Maybe I should give up reviewing lol.
That’s really interesting. I went into it not expecting a lot. I wonder if our expectations going in played a part in how we ended up seeing the film.
Nonetheless, don’t give up reviewing. If we all agreed, movie reviewing would be one boring practice. 🙂
Thanks man. I appreciate the encouragement. You’re right though. I have been a bit harsh on movies that a lot of people love but it’s only my opinion and it’s great to discuss. In this case, it’s more than likely that our expectations did play a part. I often find when I expect too much, I’m left disappointed. “Drive” is an exception to that though. It surpassed my high expectations.
Loved the early scenes with Bana and Ronan. Love the Chemical Bros score. It had a lot going for it but I agree it kind of lost it toward the end. Real shame. This started out very promising and as you say, does have much to recommend it. Especially every time Ronan kicks some ass.
I hear ya. Ronan was really good. She’s a fun young actress!
I agree w/ your review, Keith. I think this was a well-done action fare from a director not normally known for this genre, but Wright did a good job. Ronan is really an excellent young actress and w/ Bana + Blanchett, it’s an outstanding cast. I wish I had been as emotionally connected with the protagonist though, but despite the lack of that, it’s still a good thriller.
Keep your eye on Ronan. She’s got a really, really big future ahead of her. She’s really good.
I loved this film! It ranked in my Top 15 of 2011. Totally agree about Ronan–she is masterful and still so young. One aspect I really appreciated was the Grimm fairytale allusions–very clever! I also think the the Chemical Brothers were robbed of an Oscar nod–it was an effective and unforgettable score (still listen to it in my car). Great review!
Thanks man. Good words about the Grimm fairytales. It’s certainly there.
Really loved this movie and it was in my top 10 last year. Really looking forward to other movies Ronan will be in. She’s been amazing in the movies I’ve seen her in.