Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Seth Lochhead and David Farr
Principal cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander
Release date: 6th May 2011.
German scientist and former American operative Erik (Bana) has raised his daughter Hanna (Ronan) in the wilderness of the artic circle. Isolated from any human interaction the girl is conditioned as a deadly assassin whose desire to return to civilisation attracts the attention of the CIA and it’s agent Marissa (Blanchett).
As Hanna heads towards Berlin to discover her past, Marissa and her operatives gradually destroy evidence relating to a past programme and attempt to capture the girl en route to her final destination and a shocking revelation about her relation to both Erik and Marissa.
Joe Wright made his name with the heavyweight period dramas Pride & Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007) and like other recent British directors has now turned his hand to the recent trend for intelligent and thought provoking action thrillers.
The film manages to combine an indie spirit, elements of the Bourne Trilogy and an ending reminiscent of the classic conspiracy thrillers of the seventies. There is also a cleverly implemented theme revolving around the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm which not only provide bedtime reading for the isolated assassin but act as a preparation for the characters she will encounter in the real world.
Indeed Bana’s scientist may be seen as the protective father, Blanchett’s baddie a wicked witch and the CIA as the Big Bad Wolf.
Bana gives a subtle, sympathetic and layered performance as the flawed and sometimes violent scientist whilst Blanchett is clearing having fun playing the cold and ruthless Marissa (complete with her character’s drawl and twisting southern accent).
Hollander’s cabaret owner and henchman provides the camp and the action throughout appears sharp and merciless in nature with sequences almost choreographed as a violent dance courtesy of an infectious soundtrack provided by The Chemical Brothers (interestingly the BBFC have awarded the film a mild 12A certificate).
The film requires a standout performance at it’s core to allow us to suspend belief and engage with the story. Ronan, who is best known for her lead performance in The Lovely Bones (2009), manages to centre the whole piece with a confident multi-faceted performance of a character that is almost alien in nature with emotions ranging from logical and cold to lost and confused.
Whilst the revelation of the character’s true nature may be a theme covered by cinema many times before, it’s the constant creative combination of style, performance and the heroine’s journey which will make Hanna a must see movie.
A sharp, violent, relentless and perhaps far fetched thriller made hugely enjoyable by a highly kinetic combination of action sequences, story and characterisation.