An Unconventional, Visually Arresting Film About a Girl Assassin
The movie unreels with great visual flair, and it's never dull. There are a number of well-crafted kinetic action sequences, and it may come as something of a surprise that the director is Joe Wright. His previous films — Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and The Soloist — didn't have much in the way of action, but in Hanna, Wright proves he is capable of handling such sequences with panache.
Another interesting aspect of Hanna is the score by electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers. Their synthesizers and percussion produce pulsating music that is particularly effective in accompanying the action sequences.
But Hanna is more about style than substance. The story turns out to be disappointing, isn't very emotionally engaging, and doesn't leave you with much to think about. Although the movie feels vibrant and fresh for about the first hour and a quarter, just when the film should be reaching its climax, it begins to run out of steam and becomes tedious and unimaginative. Nevertheless, Hanna is a well-made diversion that is on balance reasonably entertaining.
A Chase Thriller With Some Drama and Some Humor
In Hanna, the title character (Saoirse Ronan) is a 16-year-old girl who has been raised to be an assassin. She has been brought up in a picturesque cabin in a forest in northern Finland with no human contact except for her father (Eric Bana), and everything she knows she learned from him, an encyclopedia and Grimm's Fairytales.
A CIA agent named Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett, speaking with some kind of American accent — maybe Texas?) deploys lots of personnel to go after Hanna, but the girl kills a couple of people, then finds herself alone in the Moroccan desert. There she begins to travel with a goofy British family on holiday, and this part of the film is mostly comic.
Marissa then hires some underworld types led by the diabolical Isaacs (Tom Hollander), who whistles "The Devil Is in the Details," to pursue Hanna, and they catch up with her in an unidentified European port city. This is the setting for the movie's most exciting action sequence, in which Hanna gets chased across giant shipping containers.
But it all ends up in an abandoned amusement park in Berlin, where there's a showdown between Hanna and Marissa, who is sort of the film's wicked witch. At one point Marissa is seen standing at the entrance to a tunnel that was part of one of the park's rides, and the entrance looks like the open mouth of the Big Bad Wolf.
Eventually, the movie reveals what is going on here. Along the way there's a high body count, but the film is so stylized that viewers don't feel much when someone is killed.
The Hanna DVD provides a feature-length audio commentary by director Joe Wright, in which he covers many interesting things about the film. He claims the temperature dipped to -29 degrees when they shot in Finland about 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle. At the other extreme, he says the temperature soared to 140 degrees when they shot in the Moroccan desert. The scenes in the movie where the characters are supposed to be in Spain were actually shot in Morocco, and he brought down a group of gypsies from Seville to do the flamenco scene. But the crew spent six months shooting in Germany, mostly in and around Berlin, but sometimes in and around Hamburg and sometimes in Bavaria. And what's that song the goofy British family sings? It's David Bowie's "Kooks."
Also, the DVD contains about nine minutes of supplemental video material. The "Alternate Ending" is a quiet, upbeat epilogue that runs a minute and a half. There are three deleted scenes with a total runtime of less than four minutes, none of which would have made a meaningful contribution to the finished film. Finally, there is the three-minute "Anatomy of a Scene: The Escape From Camp G," in which Wright shows and tells how he made the exciting action sequence where Hanna breaks out of a CIA facility.
DVD Release Date: September 6, 2011
Feature Film Runtime: 1 hour 51 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Violence and Action, Some Sexual Material and Language