A Cat And Mouse Coming Of Age
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Seth Lochhead, David Farr
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Vicky Krieps, John MacMillan
RANT: This weekend is strange. Three movies are opening, Hanna, Your Highness and Arthur, and I still did not see kid-friendly Hop from last week. So I have to make many major decisions as to what to see. Furthermore, I have to be on call this afternoon for a software upgrade at my office, forcing me curtail my movie going enjoyment even more. I really hate when real life intrudes into the fantasy that is cinema!
SYNOPSIS: Raised by her father in the wilderness to be the perfect assassin, a teenage girl is sent on a deadly mission against government operatives.
Director of The Soloist, Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, Joe Wright returns to bring us Hanna, a story of a girl raised to be an assassin from an early age. Joe Wright's films to date possess cinematic passion and heart. Hanna is no different, but fades a little as the action film that the trailers and commercials claim it to be.
Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones) plays the title character. She moves with stealth, like a ghost, in the opening sequence, as she hunts an animal with a bow with only her eyes showing. After the arrow flies and finds its target, the elk runs and Hanna gives chase, until the animal falls from exhaustion and blood loss. Hanna shows a hunter's compassion as she puts it out of its misery with a pistol shot to the brain, just missing its heart with the previous arrow shot. And as Hanna field dresses the animal, her father Erik (played by Eric Bana) attacks her and forces her to not only defend herself, but to best him.
In Hanna, this is her entire life. She has been wholly prepared as a killer in order to carry out a cold-blooded assassination of Marissa, a CIA operative played by Cate Blanchett, who was responsible for the death of her mother. And after she thinks she has carried out her mission, Hanna treks across Morocco and Spain to reconnect with her father. During this journey is when Hanna finds out some of the teenage things that she has gone without.
Ronan, Bana and Blanchett are superb. Saoirse only proves again why she was cast in the The Lovely Bones by Peter Jackson. Her ability to convey both practical, methodical killing skills and a naive yearning for the passion and friendship is exceptional. Bana carries himself well in Hanna, proving that he has chops in any genre. Finally, Cate Blanchett smolders and chops up the scenery every time she walks in front of the camera, even though her Texas drawl finds itself sticky on her lips.
Wright makes a beautiful cat-and-mouse film, coupled with a young woman's journey of a softer side of self discovery. The action is quick and efficient. The humor is real and unexpected, coming from Hanna and from a traveling girl named Sophie (Jessica Barden). The photography is something we come to expect from Wright, and he delivers here as well. Even a setting sun seems either hopeful or ominous, depending on its required role in the story.
Hanna is a great film. The dynamics between the characters - Hanna and Erik, Erik and Marissa, Hanna and Marissa - kept me engrossed. Some of the plot mired the pace a little, especially if one expects a shoot 'em up throughout. The action was tempered with a stronger tale beneath it. Ultimately, Hanna's journey for revenge (and enlightenment) is a good one.