Review: Hanna

by Christopher Misch



With Hanna, filmmaker Joe Wright has fully recovered from the diabolical hiccup that was The Soloist and given us the strongest, most entertaining movie of the year thus far. The film stars Atonement‘s Saoirse Ronan in the title role as Hanna, a teenage girl who lives amongst the harsh Finland wilderness with her father (play by Eric Bana). Ever since she was a young child, she has been isolated from the rest of civilization, and trained to become an elite super assassin. Everything she has worked for, from the demanding self-defence exercises to the memorized made-up back story of her past, has been in preparation for the moment when she would immerse herself back into society. However, when Hanna and her father make their location known, corrupt CIA agent Marissa Wiegler (played by Cate Blanchett) pools together all her resources to capture Hanna, as she represents a valuable asset and prized commodity. Forced to split up, Hanna and her father agree to meet up in Berlin in a week’s time and it is here where the film adopts a duel storyline structure as both Hanna and her father attempt to elude Agent Wiegler’s hired goons and what follows is a series of tightly-knit action sequences as they make their way to rendezvous in the German capitol.

Maybe it is the brilliantly composed score by The Chemical Brothers or maybe it is the strong performances from Ronan, Bana, and Blanchett, but Hanna is remarkable in its ability to borrow elements from so many films we have seen in the past, and do so in such a manner that makes it feel surprisingly original. The film opens with an extraordinary amount of energy and while it isn’t able to maintain it fully all the way through, it is able to regain it just in time for its powerful closing moments.

One particular scene that is sure to draw comparisons to Old Boy and Repo Men, has Bana walking with purpose through a underground dimly-lit subway station. Wright’s camera initially frames him from behind in a medium wide shot, and then in one smooth motion the camera pans around in front him to reveal a half-dozen men in close pursuit. Without a single cut in the scene, the tracking shot concludes with a brutal fight sequence where Bana takes on all of Agent Wiegler’s hired goons and a vicious knife toss to one of the pursuers’ chest ends the violent affair.

In the past, Joe Wright has admitted that he enjoys ‘showing off’ with the camera, and in response several of his critics have accused his more spectacular sequences of being exactly just that; with specific reference here to his notable dolly shot in The Soloist and the breathtaking evacuation of Dunkirk tracking shot in Atonement. The accusations are that Wright chooses the shot composition based on a ‘coolness’ factor and not necessarily the best shot in relation to the film’s underlying story. With Hanna, Wright is able to successfully fuse the ‘coolness’ factor with the structural and thematic components, and the end result being a film that is able to walk that almost impossible line between actioner and art-house.

79/100 - Wright is able to successfully fuse the ‘coolness’ factor with the structural and thematic components, and the end result being a film that is able to walk that almost impossible line between actioner and art-house.

Christopher Misch

I've always loved movies, but it wasn't until under the tutelage of Professor Garry Leonard at the University of Toronto that my passion for the industry became an understanding of an art form. With a specific fascination in both the western genre and Asian cinema in general, I am of the view that good movies are either enlightening or entertaining, and if you are truly lucky they are both.
  • Franchesca

    I pretty much agree with your review. Wright has managed to create a refreshing action movie through its stylized form. But he had a great team with him.. the actors—especially Ronan—were absolutely amazing, the cinematography great, particularly the first 20 minutes of the film, and of course the music added another layer to what helped bring the movie to be what it is. Though, it does lack in plot, with only enough to keep the film going—as a typical action movie would—and lost its pacing because it was unnecessarily long.

    other than that, it was a great film to watch and I’d go watch it again if i could.

  • Matt Horton

    Well done, sir. I give it a 7/10.It was well done but I feel it’s ultimately pretty forgettable. Here’s hoping for a sequel.

  • Christopher Misch

    I actually don’t think I’ll be forgetting about #Hanna anytime soon.

  • Christopher Misch

    I agree the plot isn’t as tight as the film believes it is. And parts of it are confusing or just not well articulated. That being said, it’s easily my favourite film of the year thus far. With the only real competition being Rango.

  • Franchesca

    I haven’t seen too many movies this year (in comparison to you at least… haha) but yes, definitely favourite for this year thus far.

  • Christopher Misch

    What else have you seen and enjoyed from 2011?

  • justaguest

    seen it last night. I find that the story itself is not so special but the manner in which they’ve presented it makes it very unique (and so interesting). I have to be honest that my favorite character is the funny little girl. lol.

  • Christopher Misch

    I agree, it’s certainly the presentation and soundtrack that elevates #Hanna.

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