Hanna

Review by Adam Woodward @AWLies

Directed by

Joe Wright

Starring

Cate Blanchett Eric Bana Saoirse Ronan

Anticipation.

After hitting a dull note with The Soloist, has Wright rediscovered his voice?

Enjoyment.

Not quite. Hanna is the British director’s woolliest and most disjointed film yet. Ronan saves his blushes, though.

In Retrospect.

Fun in places but unfulfilling as a whole.

Any intrigue established in Hanna is smothered by a director unable to overcome his own art house ambitions.

From the bloodied dunes of Dunkirk to the putrid streets of LA’s Skid Row, Joe Wright has long sought to extract beauty from chaos. No surprise, then, that oil painting compositions pepper the British director’s first crack at high-energy action like flashes of calm in a storm of bullets and brimstone.

Indeed, a dramatic mid-shot of a swan nestled between broken panes in a Finnish ice drift establishes an eerily passive equilibrium before our eponymous heroine announces herself with an arrow.

Having been raised in isolation in this bitter sub-arctic wilderness by her father, Erik (Eric Bana), Hanna (Saoirse Ronan, so haunting in Wright’s Atonement and again here) is more accustomed to gutting deer than kissing boys. As well as making Kick-Ass’ Hit-Girl look like a puny apple-polisher, our Hanna’s a multilingual assassin. Meaning? Not only will she deliver a frosty pay-off line after she’s finished fucking you up, she’ll have the common courtesy to do so in your native tongue.

Meanwhile Cate Blanchett recycles her southern twang from Benjamin Button to good effect as CIA meta-bitch Marissa Wiegler, who’s hellbent on tracking down Hanna and her ‘rogue asset’ papa after they ceremonially blow their own cover.

As Erik vanishes, Hanna is exposed. Out of the forest and into the real world jungle, she’ll have to negotiate a host of unknown hazards, but there’s no scenario this feral child can’t bite and brawl her way out of. There’s an issue here, however, in that Hanna’s fight for survival, while exhilarating, never provides that knife-edge moment; that flake of fallibility that’s so crucial when it comes to humanising action heroes.

This oversight is addressed late on by a revelation concerning Hanna’s superhuman DNA, but this is a lazy character development, not the thought-provoking twist it presumably looked on paper.

That’s not to say that Ronan doesn’t shine. After being misused by Peters Jackson and Weir in her previous two big screen outings, the 17-year-old holds her own consummately alongside a deliciously fierce Blanchett. The pair share barely a fraction of screen time, but their cat-and-mouse chemistry is invaluable when you consider how incongruous the rest of the cast feels (including Bana, who resurfaces for a few speedy costume changes before getting lost in the plot).

As if Wright’s readiness to show off his artistic flair and paint Hanna as a twisted modern-day fairy tale isn’t jarring enough, Tom Hollander channelling Annie Lennox as a campy neo-Nazi bounty hunter certainly wasn’t called for.

A thumping Chemical Brothers score instils routine fight sequences with some much-needed vigour, but any intrigue established in the film’s formative scenes is smothered by a director unable to overcome his own art house ambitions.

Published 6 May 2011

Tags: Cate Blanchett Joe Wright Saoirse Ronan

Anticipation.

After hitting a dull note with The Soloist, has Wright rediscovered his voice?

Enjoyment.

Not quite. Hanna is the British director’s woolliest and most disjointed film yet. Ronan saves his blushes, though.

In Retrospect.

Fun in places but unfulfilling as a whole.

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