Saturday, 14 May 2011


Hanna is a young girl raised by her father, Erik, in a wooden hut in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Finland, within the arctic circle. Erik has taught her to kill, fight, and generally to take care of herself. It becomes apparent after a while that she has been trained as an assassin to take out one particular target, when she finally finds herself out in the real world.

Hanna is played very capably by Saoirse Ronan; she is able to swing between action sequences and her quieter scenes of self-discovery. Obviously Joe Wright sees something good in her, as she also plays the young Bryony in Atonement. Speaking of Atonement; remembering a tremendous one-take steady-cam shot, I was on the look out for one in Hanna, and wasn’t disappointed. Eric Bana (Erik - Hanna’s father) arrives in Berlin and is shadowed by CIA guys. As we follow him through a bus station, down into the U-bahn, he is confronted by 3 or 4 CIA guys, Erik manages to take care of them all, before leaving calmly. Very slick, very cool.

The film is obviously more about Hanna and her discovery of herself; consequently we don’t learn quite so much about Bana’s character, though we find out enough to understand the animosity between him and bad-girl Marissa (Cate Blanchett). Marissa’s character is very cold and calculating; as she says: she has made certain life choices (career driven, no kids). She is very prim and proper, well dressed, slightly OCD. I didn’t doubt for a second that she would pull the trigger towards the end of the film. However, Tom Hollander’s character is very under-used. Essentially he is hit-man hired by Marissa to get rid of Hanna; along with two Neo-Nazi-looking characters he follows her from country to country. Beyond that, we don’t learn anything about him (other than he’s gay, or bisexual, or something). So why get someone as established as Tom Hollander to play this one-dimensional character we know nothing about? Not sure.

It’s probably almost inevitable that some comparisons will be made with Bourne (trained assassin-type-person, not sure who they are, goes on a journey of self-discovery); but where Bourne maintains momentum and intrigue throughout the entire trilogy, Hanna flounders slightly and doesn’t know what to do with itself. The story particularly loses its way during the middle section of the film, as Hanna makes friends with a British family on a travelling holiday in their camper-van. Hanna has a few discovery moments (being scared of electric appliances, meeting boys, trying a first kiss), but none of this contributes to the story, at least not in a worthwhile way I feel.

I did enjoy the film. Some lovely cinematography, particularly the snow-covered north of Finland at the start of the film; a great thumping soundtrack from The Chemical Brothers (very Half-Life 2 - more gaming references!) which is particularly good when Hanna escapes from the detention centre; a good story (despite it languishing in places); and a good cast.