The recent action-packed thriller that many critics have called a “fairytale,” directed by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, The Soloist) is a film with strange aspects but a very well written and original story. Since I’ve been asked countless times; Hanna is about a young girl trained to be an assassin by her father in the woods. Taken to the modern world, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) must complete a mission, and doing so, questions her humanity. The story plays out very much like a fairytale, a protagonist on a long journey who comes into contact with different “creatures,” or, in this case, different types of people. Through these experiences, Hanna gains its weird elements, but it never strays from the story at hand.
Plenty of good messages and scenes are mixed in the folds of tasteful action, including a very subtle but powerful pro-life and adoption message. Scenes that lend info to how strange Hanna is are scenes like when she first sees electricity at work. An excellent scene that has her overwhelmed and going crazy in an attempt to turn off all electric items is both stunning and extremely realistic.
The only flaws within the story are the brief, unexplained and at times useless scenes.
Director Joe Wright is changing his method a little, compared to two of his other films, Pride and Prejudice and The Soloist. Both of these films have two characters who are not fond of each other in anyway, then become united in some way at the end. Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) of Pride and Prejudicehas dislike for Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), but then through tough trials, a romance grows between them. Reporter Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) of The Soloist wants nothing to do with homeless man Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), but the two realize that together than can both achieve happiness and successfulness in their lives. Joe Wright changes this method in Hanna, beginning with Hanna’s seemingly perfect relationship with her father, Erik (Eric Bana) and how the relationship crumbles.
Wright also manages to get fantastic performance out of his actors, as his directorial history shows. Keira Knightly received a deserved Oscar nomination for her role as Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice in 2005. Two years later, Irish actress Saoirse Ronan received an Oscar nomination for her role as Briony Tallis in Wright’s Academy Award nominated film for Best Picture, Atonement. Finally, in The Soloist,Jamie Foxx delivered an incredible performance as homeless cello player, Nathaniel Ayers. Unfortunately, this film’s early release in March of 2009 caused Foxx to receive no rightful Oscar nomination. In Hanna, Saoirse Ronan stars in her second Joe Wright film, and does a fantastic job as a girl who is very…different; to say the least. Although her performance is not worthy of an Academy Award nomination, she is very enjoyable and realistic to watch. She has fantastic talent. Cate Blanchett is a tad bland as her portrayal of a strict and stoic CIA agent, but it is this serious personality that also makes her fun to watch. Eric Bana has the only performance that could be called “bad.” He does an average level job as Hanna’s father, but his accent could’ve used work; there are times he is nearly impossible to understand.
The excellent and Oscar-worthy cinematography is the best part of the film. Director of photography Alwin H. Kulcher had fun using the camera to show each and every scene somehow differently. The most noticeable would be a scene that shows Erik calmly walking through a train station pursued by thugs. The scene of course ends in a brawl, but the catch is throughout Erik’s walk and fight, the camera never cuts. The entire scene is one take.
The only elements that bring this movie down are the bizarre instances that could easily turn moviegoers away, and the odd techno-like soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers. The music works, but it is way too odd, therefore noticeable. In conclusion, Hanna is an intriguingly strange but original action flick by an important director whose career should be followed.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) takes a breather at an inn in an Arabic region while traveling the world.