Home > Uncategorized > A Note on “Hanna”

A Note on “Hanna”

My apologizes to Ms. Hartwig, as I stole Friend-licia to watch Boston the other night so The Wife and I could catch a movie in Century City.  It was a last minute call and we got lucky that Friend-licia was on her way back from Coachella.  After a quick debate over several movies we decided to see Hanna, the new film from director Joe Wright who most recently directed The Soloist, but don’t hold that against him.  He took a departure from his usual fare of sentimental melodrama and brings us a coming-of-age tale masked as an action film.  I only wish he spent as much time working over the script as he did working over the soundtrack.

It starts off beautifully in the frozen forests of Finland with only natural light illuminating the scenes.  We’re introduced to Hanna (Saoirse Ronan from Wright’s Atonement) as a cunning hunter that takes down a majestic reindeer with a single arrow.  Make no mistake, this young sweet looking girl is a predator and dangerous.  She was trained for one mission by her father Erik (Eric Bana) and that is to be a weapon seeking revenge for the death of her mother.  She has been living with Erik her entire life, isolated in a cabin in the woods reminiscent of the Grimm Fairy tales of which she is so fond.  Soon after the script sets Hanna up as the agile predator, we see a gentler moment with her father where she asks him what music sounds like.  This girl is ready to grow up.  Knowing that she is ready Erik allows her to make the decision to activate a beacon that will signal his CIA nemesis, Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett).

From the moment Hanna activates the beacon the film is directed down a path that is part Run, Lola, Run and part coming of age tale.  The mixed genre actually played well.  She would go from driving shotgun next to Olivia Williams with gold light flickering through her blonde hair to knocking in the teeth and slitting the throats of middle-aged men set to the adrenaline-pumping score by The Chemical Brothers.  It is a refreshing change to the typical assassin-that-finds-his-heart storyline.  This is a girl who has only known only objective and as soon as she believes that objective achieved, she is free to explore the world and Ronan plays the part with an endearing innocence that makes you forget just how lethal this girl can be.

Eric Bana’s character was as cold and flat as the Finnish lake where we first met him.  At times it became difficult to tell if it were character choices Bana had made or if it were just a disconnected performance. The bond I thought we should feel between Erik and Hanna wasn’t there. I felt like he was just playing his character from Munich, at least the accent was the same as was his keen ability to kill.  He wasn’t in the film enough to be a real distraction for me, during the movie I was really just drawn into Hanna’s character as this deadly teen struck with an insatiable wanderlust and gentle spirit.  One performances that stood out, although her character was annoying, came from Jessica Barden.  If a character is written to be annoying and then succeeds in annoying you, kudos to the actress.  She provided much needed comic relief and appropriately provided an outlet for her exploration of sexuality.  They never do anything, but she does introduce Hanna to boys and they share a small kiss, but the truth is you cannot become of the world without a sexual awakening.  It was handled with delicacy and humor.  There is a temptation when handling a female coming-of-age story to exploit her sexuality and Wright avoided that temptation, which I applaud.

It would be unfair to the film to claim that major plot holes distracted me.  The only time I wasn’t fully on board with this plot was when a man named Issacs tracked down Hanna.  Issacs is played by the familiar face Tom Hollander, who was fantastic in In The Loop.  You’ll probably recognize him from the Pirates of the Carribbean movies. But he’s commissioned by Marissa to track Hanna down and he finds her almost immediately.  Perhaps I blinked, but it seemed highly unlikely that he would stumble upon the hotel she stayed in when she didn’t give her name, didn’t pay, wasn’t seen and slept in the back room.  But, let’s forget it and just enjoy the chase.

Now, after the credits had rolled and The Wife and I made it safely back to our car we started talking about things we liked about the movie.  Big questions arose (and major spoilers are a-coming). Why the elaborate plan for revenge when it seems they could have just killed Marissa without all the fanfare?  Marissa attacked Erik years ago by just stepping into the street and shooting him.  They couldn’t have done something similar? I guess then there wouldn’t be a movie, but why not track her down, follow her home and shoot her?  Then we got on the topic of who Hanna is, what she is.  It’s a typical “twist” to the story and for me that is where the third act started to go awry. I wanted Hanna to be a girl that was finely trained, nothing more.

But what can you do? These bigger questions didn’t distract me much in the moment, and Mr. Dill always said you should let your first viewing just wash over you.  Later, you can go back and analyze what worked, what didn’t and why.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.