Hanna is a bit of a mystery. Played by the ethereal Saoirse Ronan, Hanna is introduced in no time as a cunning huntress, an over-educated killer polygot, and a total naÃ¯f. If you ever wondered what Aliens’ Newt might have grown up to be, see Hanna.
Her father, Eric Bana, has them living off the grid, seemingly in a timeless bubble of held breath and unrelenting strictness. They huddle together in a small house near the arctic circle, fending for themselves and training, always training, for the inevitable forces that will hunt them down and destroy them. Until Hanna enters the real world, as you know she must, we have no idea who those forces might be — and through the end we’re not even sure why they would pursue with such lethal intent. Ultimately, to enjoy the film, that unresolved point doesn’t even matter — what matters is eluding Hanna’s pursuers and showing her the world.
It’s fascinating how over-prepared Hanna is in some ways and how bumbling she is in others. Ronan does a beautiful job making these dissonances and skills seem native to her. She is equally convincing in her awestruck wonder and her cool programming. She gets into and out of complex situations, meets some nice and not-so-nice people, and her pursuer (Cate Blanchett) pursues, to drive the narrative, but the story is equally happy to just crawl inside Hanna’s head and look around for a while. As a result, the film bounces between intensely scored action sequences and delicate examinations of things we take for granted in our regular, normal lives.
Bana is gruff, heroic, and forgettable next to his pale and wild progeny. Blanchett plays her usually glassine self, with an unconvincing American accent and sharp collar points and deceptive warmth in her voice. She hires a track-suited Tom Hollander to assist her under the table with her chase, and Hollander gleefully chews up the scenery as his glassy-eyed pastel predator.
Whoever the location scouts are, they should be applauded for the amazing rooms and buildings Hanna finds herself in. Director Joe Wright may be better known for his period films Atonement and Pride and Prejudice — films that might seem like just a romance on the surface and then revealing more to them in the tale. Hanna is similar in that it feels otherworldly, and what appears to be an action movie about a bad-ass little girl turns into an exploration of something altogether more. The Chemical Brothers scored the film and it was notably exciting and appropriate music at every turn.
The story kept my attention, looked beautiful, and had some really killer sequences. It’s a little grim, a lot interesting, and worth seeing for sure.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release date: 4/8/11
Time in minutes: 111
Director: Joe Wright
Studio: Focus Features