Hanna – Foreign Feel, American Action

Hanna – Foreign Feel, American Action

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  1. A young lead actress and a couple of first time writers doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.  But, you put them all under the direction of Joe Wright and you get Hanna (2011) which is different from most films you’ll see hit theaters but is very good.  Wright directed the critically acclaimed films Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, but with Hanna he tries his hand at action/thriller rather than drama/romance.  Hanna did not garner any Golden Globe or Oscar nominations, but it did pick up 4 wins in various categories from an assortment of awards ceremonies.

    What is it about?

    The film, as its title suggests, follows a young girl named Hanna (Saoirse Ronan).  She is 16 and lives with her father like a normal child.  She isn’t exactly normal, though.  Her father, Erik (Eric Bana), is an ex CIA agent and skilled assassin who is hiding out from the CIA because he knows a secret he isn’t supposed to know.  On top of that, he has been training Hanna to kill another CIA higher-up named Marissa (Cate Blanchett).  Marissa has been trying to find and kill Erik ever since he left the CIA, but he has been hiding off the grid in the Finnish wilderness training Hanna.

    He finally decides Hanna is ready and they activate a transmitter that reveals Erik’s location to Marissa.  Erik leaves and tells Hanna to meet him in Berlin "eventually."  Hanna, meanwhile, waits for Marissa’s team to arrive and kills most of them.  She does get taken captive, though… intentionally.  She asks to speak to Marissa, but they send in a body double.  Hanna kills the double and a handful of guards as she escapes the highly secure compound.  Her journey to meet her father in Berlin takes her on the road with a nice family taking an RV trip and even to a fairy tale themed home in an amusement park.  She also has to fight for her life a lot since Marissa and her agents are hot on Hanna’s trail.

    In one such confrontation, Hanna overhears some conversation that suggests Erik may not be her real father.  Once she meets up with him, she finds her beloved grandmother dead and discovers the truth about her own past.  Then, her and Erik have to fight for their lives.  To find out what happens… rent it.

    Is it any good?

    Hanna is a significant departure from the standard action/chase thriller that you might be used to.  The differences come in the fairy tale type themes it tosses in as well as the camera work and editing.  It feels a lot like a foreign film; not just because of it’s European locales and accents, but the cinematography is notably different from a standard American action flick.  Things are shot at an angle and the shots are a little longer than usual, both of which are indicative of foreign films.  One moment in particular demonstrates the major difference.  When Hanna is spending time with Sophie (the daughter of the RV family), there is a moment when they lay under the covers facing each other.  One shot shows only half of Hanna’s face and the other shows just half of Sophie’s face.  It’s kind of a jarring scene, visually, but really cool.  

    The most notable thing apart from the vastly different feel of the film, is Saoirse Ronan’s performance. Yea, she plays a stone cold killer that may or may not have been gentically altered to not show emotion, but she breaks through that sometimes.  Especially in the scenes with Sophie discussed above.  Ronan has to walk the thin line of emotionally detached while trying to overcome that… all while beating the crap out of people in some very well choreographed action sequences.  It’s impressive stuff, especially since the film was released 4 days before her 17th birthday.  That means she was 16 or possibly even 15 while filming… wow.

    Nolan’s Grade:  B+

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