Directed by Joe Wright
Opening in the wilds of Northern Finland, we meet Saoirse Ronan’s Hanna as she’s stalking and killing a reindeer, and we learn she’s been raised in isolation by her ex-CIA father Erik, who gives her the opportunity to go into the outside world by pressing the button on a box that’s a homing device which will notify Erik’s former handler Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) where they are. 15 years earlier, Wiegler led a botched murder attempt that ended up killing Hanna’s mother, but she and her father go on their separate ways as Wiegler’s men close in on them. Having never experienced anything other than her secluded lifestyle, Hanna soon meets a girl her own age, played by mouthy Jessica Bardem from “Tamara Drewe,” and allows herself to be taken off-mission in order to spend more time with her experiencing the normal things teen girls do.
Who knows what dark past Wright tapped into in order to come up with some of the crazy ideas we see in his fourth movie, but “Hanna” has an odd Kubrickian tone to it, not just due to some of the obvious references to “A Clockwork Orange,” but also with the hyper-stylized look of every scene. Wright’s ability to explore a lot of different environments in such a gorgeous way reminds one of Tarsem’s “The Fall,” a similarly eclectic film, but probably his wisest move was to commission the Chemical Brothers to provide the soundtrack, which works well as it alternates between moody ambience and driving beats, bringing the best out of even the more sublime scenes. The way the action is framed and paced also sets the film apart from others, and though the action is pretty minimal, it really delivers, especially in the last act.
More than anything, “Hanna” gives Ronan another chance to shine, delivering another incredibly mature performance and selling the character well once we’ve adjusted to the heavy German accent she shares with Bana; it’s tougher to get into Blanchett’s exaggerated Southern accent and her quirky behavior. The cast is rounded out by Tom Hollander as an equally eccentric hired assassin and Jason Flemying and Olivia Williams as the New Age parents of Hanna’s new friend, all three bringing something new to the mix.
“Hanna” is a hard movie to absolutely love though, because for every cool bit of action or funny oddball moment that connects, there seems to be a bit too much experimentation, as if Wright wanted nothing more than to weed out anyone who isn’t completely on board with his take on the action genre. It makes for a rather uneven experience and it’s hard to determine whether Wright was deliberately trying to make a classier B-movie–the way the film ends with the title splashed on the screen ala “Insidious” or “Drag Me to Hell” certainly would make it seem that way–or legitimately thought he was making something that could appeal to mainstream action movie fans.
Either way, “Hanna” won’t be for everyone and it’s going to have an uphill climb trying to find the kindred souls with whom the film’s distinct oddness will connect, even as Wright continues to prove himself as one of the more innovative filmmakers working today.