Mysterious and Exciting
With a mix of adventure, danger and intrigue, Joe Wright’s Hanna has a lot going for moviegoers. Playing the title role, Saoirse Ronan continues to display the strong acting skills she exhibited in The Lovely Bones. Hanna has been raised by her father Erik (Eric Bana) in a remote forest area of North Finland. Under his wing she excels at hunting, survival skills, martial arts, weapons and can practically recite the entire encyclopedia.
The story of what’s going on here seems quite mysterious. Erik tells Hanna that “they” will come for her soon. She admits she’s ready, and when her dad leaves for a hunting trip he places that decision clearly in her hands. He puts a box with a switch in front of her, then tells her all she has to do is flip the switch and a beacon will summon “them” on the way.
We soon learn that Erik is a former CIA op who has hidden away from another agent, Marissa (Cate Blanchett). She is part of the “they” hunting both Erik and Hanna.
Within seconds of Hanna flipping the switch, numerous agents descend on the cabin. Hanna tries to hold them off, but she’s out numbered, and the next time we see her she’s adorned in an orange outfit lying on a slab in a high-tech laboratory. She catches a glimpse of Marissa from a large screen, and when Hanna hears her voice it’s like she’s hearing a voice from the womb.
Marissa has firm plans for Hanna once she’s captured, but the girl has been well-trained for any circumstance, so she escapes. The hunt is now on. But even on the run Hanna experiences things she has only learned about in books. She heads for the place her father said they would re-unite if ever separated -- a decaying amusement park in Germany. This location holds particular charm for Hanna as she’s well-versed in Grimm’s Fairy Tales and other folklore.
Because folklore appeared in part of the script by Seth Lochhead and David Farr, director Wright (The Soloist) was drawn to that aspect of the story. Born in London, Wright grew up in somewhat of a fairyland as his parents founded Islington's Little Angel Theater, a puppet theater. “I recognized it had kind of a fairytale structure as it was about a kid growing up in a relative secluded relatively safe environment and at one point given a choice to embark on a journey out into the world and the dark forest, as it may be in a fairytale and encounter evil and overcome it,” he said.
Hanna is also a thriller full of action as Hanna befriends some vacationers and stows away with them while being chased every moment by CIA agents. It’s both intense and exciting watching a young girl maneuver a yard of storage trailers with armed men in pursuit as cleverly as she does when Marissa and her agents come calling on the amusement park building where Hanna is hiding.
Ronan excels in her portrayal of Hanna. She offers up an inquisitive young girl seeing the world for the first time and actually experiencing some real emotions such as having her first real friend and being picked up by boys. Blanchett comes across as one tough cookie in the role of Marissa. It’s hard to wait for her to get what’s coming to her, and it’s not what one expects. Bana keeps all of his angles up and moving.
Wright paces his action scenes well, and cinematographer Alwin Kuchler captures every scene as if he painted it himself. Although a mixed bag of genres, Hanna delivers on them all.
(Released by Focus Features and rated “PG-13” for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.