Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Directed by Joe Wright.
2011. Rated PG-13, 111 minutes.
Saoirse Ronan
Eric Bana
Cate Blanchett
Tom Hollander
Jessica Barden
Vicky Krieps
Tim Beckmann
Jason Flemyng
Olivia Williams

Hanna (Ronan) is not your typical teenage girl. Being raised in the forest by only your father in complete isolation tends to have that effect. We very soon learn there’s a lot more to it than that. Dad, Erik Heller (Bana) seems to be training her for a very dangerous mission. She fluently speaks numerous languages, has cat-like reflexes even in her sleep, fights viciously and is scarily proficient with firearms. We’re not the least bit surprised when she tells dad that she thinks she’s ready. With that, he digs up something that looks like he’s about to call Batman, shaves, cuts his hair, throws on a suit, gives Hanna a few last minute instructions and bails out. Apparently, the simple fact he’s alive is a threat to national security. Naturally, shortly after Hanna’s flipped the switch on the makeshift batphone a small army of government agents are making their way inside the cabin where she lives with guns drawn looking for pop. They only find her and she disposes of a few of them before letting herself be corralled and hauled off to a very sanitized facility for questioning.

At this point, we still don’t know what it is she’s ready for and why dad took off ahead of the action. Marissa (Blanchett) is wondering the same thing. She pretty much runs things in this particular government operation. The Heller’s plan slowly comes into focus for us while the action occurs rapidly enough. Our young heroine winds up on the run after some death-defying feats, death inducing to a number of those in her way, while dad is on an excursion of his own. Hanna’s introduction to the modern world and lack of social skill serves as comic relief. What exactly her father is doing and Hanna’s quest to reunite with him gives us both the action and the drama. It’s all woven into an intriguing and exciting tale. It's also full of wonderful visuals that keep our eyes dazzled.

Detractors will note that Hanna engages in lots of hand-to-hand combat with grown men. Rest assured, all is explained. I might add that what we’re shown is well depicted. It never feels anywhere near as ridiculous as it might sound. It helps that Ronan handles the lead role superbly. She is a perfect mix of naivete and ruthlessness. The plot does its part by being mysterious enough to keep us interested, but not so much that it feels cryptic. There are some spots where it drags a bit, but the pace feels solid overall. It wisely borrows from another recent action movie with a female lead. If Salt is basically The Bourne Identity starring Angelina Jolie then Hanna is Salt with a teenager. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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