BAFTA award winning director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) teams up with Irish reared Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones) again, this time to attempt an all out action-thriller called Hanna.
So here we have a story of a girl – that’d be Hanna (Ronan) – who was raised deep in a forest somewhere in Finland shielded away from society as we know it. With little knowledge of the outside world aside from the things that she has been told. Whose doing was this? Well, her rogue CIA agent father (Bana), of course, who has been training her as an assassin since the death of her mother. Good parenting, huh? The whole reason you train an assassin is so that you can, and I say this bluntly, off someone so once Hanna comes of age she is given the choice of whether or not she wants to set out to do what it is she has been training for since childhood. Obviously, she accepts, daddy scampers off and, boom, the big bad Marissa Wiegler (Blanchett) is alerted to the Heller’s whereabouts. And thus the journey begins…
Hanna really isn’t anything new and the plot alone is, by no means, going to rock your world irrevocably. Take any fairytale where the lead has to go defeat whatever is threatening them and smash it together with any action-thriller and you’ve pretty much got Hanna. In fact, I’d bet that you’ll probably have it all figured out long before they reveal a single thing. I’d compare it to drawing blood from a stone since most of us have already seen this sort of story before. But to be truthful the waiting isn’t that bad. And there are a plethora of reasons as to why this is so.
The first is Hanna’s director which may come as a bit of a surprise. When you see a trailer for an action flick with a cast including the likes of Blanchett, Bana and Ronan attached, it’s fair to assume that you’re thinking something along the lines of ‘Hey, with actors like these not much can go wrong, well, hopefully’. But when you hear that the director is Joe Wright of Atonement, Pride and Prejudice and The Soloist you might start to feel a little iffy. Fortunately, Wright accomplishes what some famed action directors (Bay!) have failed to do which is to draw a fine line between beautiful cinematography and top-notch action scenes instead of just riddling a film with mindless explosions.
Still, a film is nothing without its cast. Saoirse Ronan reteams with Wright after the film that made her. Arriving on scene as the lead despite being less than half the age of her co-stars, she quickly displays her ability to flip the switch between Hanna’s volatile nature and her innate innocence concerning the daily experiences. Her performance is all-in-all unflawed. She accomplishes everything that’s thrown her way which a lot of actresses her age can’t do so convincingly. Although her fight scenes are pretty outstanding, it’s nice to see Ronan show a glimpse of her funny flair once Hanna meets Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng’s brood.
Eric Bana has always been the sort of actor I’ve had little interest in, though I’m willing to admit that it may be due to the films I’ve had the misfortune to see him in – *cough* Troy *cough* Hulk *cough*. But after his effortless performance in Hanna, I may just have to reconsider. The cliché of the male figure training the young woman to go out in the world to enact some sort of vengeance is just that, a cliché. Erik Heller isn’t the hero. He’s the catalyst to get the ball rolling and Bana seems entirely aware of this. So he graciously takes the back-seat whilst sharing the screen with Ronan letting her take the lead and, without fail, outshine him. Its ok, he’s comfortable with it. Just like, at the start of the film, he’s all comfy with an unruly hairdo and beard to hide behind. It’s only once he sheds them and leaves Hanna so she can begin her own journey that Bana comes into his own.
For every hero there is a villain, here Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings) and Tom Hollandar (The Pirates sequels) take on these rolls. There’s nothing worse than a villain who doesn’t make your skin crawl. Both actors manage to gives you the heebie-jeebies without doing much at all. You can tell Blanchett relishes in this roll because there’s not one bit of her that holds that. Hollandar too manages to make a strange character who wears what looks like a tennis outfit all too creepifying, especially when you realise that he’s hunting down a sixteen year old girl who, we can safely assume, that he will kill in brutal manner.
If you want an action flick that will have you nomming on your treats and completely engaged (with the help of some tunes from The Chemical Brothers) but smarter than a minefield of explosions then Hanna is just for you.