NYCC: A First Look at Focus Features’ Hanna


While the New York Comic Con didn’t have the level or size of movies we’ve been used to seeing in past years, it did premiere some of the very first footage for a number of movies coming out in early 2011, one of them being Joe Wright’s Hanna, the Atonement director’s first foray into doing an action movie.

Hanna reunites Wright with his Atonement star, Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, in the title role of a young teen girl who has been living in the forests of Finland with her father Erik, played by Eric Bana, where he’s been training her as an assassin with the main purpose being to kill a CIA agent named Marissa Wiegler, played by Cate Blanchett.

During the panel, they showed two clips from the movie, the first of them involving Blanchett’s character, starting with the sound of a phone ringing and her picking up the phone with a brusque “What?” Bana’s character Erik is on the other end of the line, and they have a brief conversation where we get to hear that Blanchett is using a heavy Southern accent for this role. She says that it’s good to hear from him because they haven’t had a chance to talk, and they have a tense conversation while they try to figure out what the other one has planned. Clearly, the two of them have some bad blood from having worked together previously.

Before the conversation gets too deep, there’s a knock on the door, and we can see that she’s in what looks like a hotel room with another agent who goes over to the door to investigate only to be shot in the head with a bullet sending him flying backwards. She hears a dial tone on the other end of the phone because Erik has hung up so she walks over to the door to see what’s going on and the phone starts ringing again so she starts shooting wildly at the door until the ringing stops. She calls out to him and when there’s no response, she walks over to the door and looks through one of the bullet holes to see someone in a suit about to kick the door down. We then see that the person on the other side is Bana himself and he walks into the room with his gun blazing only to see that his opponent has somehow managed to escape leaving the room empty. This scene seemed very stylishly shot, possibly influenced by Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, particularly the scene where The Bride learns she’s pregnant just as an assassin shows up to kill her.

The second clip takes place after Hanna has been found and taken in by the CIA, and it opens with her waking up lying on a table in a holding cell, her hair looking rather wild and uncombed compared to Ronan’s normally straight hair. The scene opens with a fish eye lens and an interesting uses of split screens to recreate the feeling of being disoriented. Hanna asks where she is and a psychiatrist outside of the room introduces himself and starts asking her questions through the PA such as how long she’d been in the forest and what her father told her, but she’s ignoring him and instead, she comments on the number of cameras surrounding her in the cell.

Since the interrogation isn’t going anywhere, the doctor says that if she needs anything that she should just ask, so she insists on talking to Marissa Wiegler, but he says that she’s not there and he’ll get her someone else. We then see that Marissa is in another room watching this interaction and she tells the psychiatrist to do what he’s told. Finally, a woman walks into the room and sits down next to Hanna facing away from her who we assume to be Marissa. When the camera pans around we see that this isn’t the real Marissa and they’ve figured that Hanna is up to something and have sent in a decoy.

Hanna asks the fake Marissa where she is and she’s told she’s in a nice place, but Hanna is suspicious and asks her where the agent first met her father, but the real Marissa is feeding the decoy that information through an earpiece. Hanna then starts crying so the woman posing as Marissa moves over to console her despite being told in her earpiece to keep her distance. When Hanna starts to embrace her closely, wrapping her legs around the woman’s body, the agents watching this on the monitors start calling her to abort and they send armed agents to the room, but before they get there Hanna has snapped the woman’s neck. Alarms start blaring and when the agents break into the room, Hanna quickly takes them all down, using an impressive judo move to throw one of them over her head, grabs one of their guns and proceeds to shoot out all the cameras, leaving the one being watched on a monitor by Marissa for last.

The footage was notably more stylish than what we normally have seen from Wright, and the director mentioned on the panel that the Chemical Brothers would be providing the music for the movie although we didn’t get any taste of what they’ll do with the clips shown. Wright had previously worked with the Chemicals helping to set up video installations for their raves back in the ’90s, and that decision would be another departure for the director whose mainly had classical music influences for his previous three films.

Wright’s also using fight coordinator Jeff Imada who did the “Bourne” movies to create a fighting style somewhere between martial arts and streetfighting.

After the panel, we had a chance to sit down with Joe Wright for an exclusive video interview and here’s what we talked about:

* Why he decided to do something different
* How he went about approaching the material in terms of doing something more stylish
* Whether the humor was in the script or brought by the actors
* If he thinks the fans of Atonement might see Hanna
* The fairy tale aspect of the film and whether it’s taken literally
* Working with the same actors a second time
* He says he might try to do another period film after finishing Hanna
* His disappointment in how things turned out with The Soloist
And More!

Hanna is scheduled to open on April 8, 2011.