Written by: Seth Lochhead & David Farr
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Cate Blanchett
Children do not get the opportunity to choose their parents or the life circumstances surrounding them. They inherit it all and must make the most of it while they can. While optimal for fighting and surviving out in the wild, Hanna puts its protagonist through quite the upbringing and while the action on display has impressive sequences, it ultimately feels too plain for its own good.
Living out in rural Finland with her father, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) knows how to hunt for her own food and kill any threat that comes her way. She constantly prepares for a major moment of her life and her father reluctantly agrees to let happen. With the flip of a switch, Hanna goes out on the run with some dangerous people looking to take her out.
Combining the talents of Saoirse Ronan and Joe Wright has worked previously to wondrous degrees in Atonement, so this feature definitely came with high expectations. For the most part, it works amid some glaring issues, but the most intriguing aspect comes from Wright’s decision to direct this feature. Wright has made a name for himself with his direction of period pieces that have touched the hearts of many from Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, and the aforementioned drama also led by Keira Knightley. However, he’s never afraid to shake things up and do something outside of his wheelhouse, which is where this film sets in.
Seeing Wright take on a straight-up action film came as quite a surprise given his history, and his decisions as a director mostly confound me here but they mostly work. Several shots capture the intensity of this situation for Hanna and rightfully so seeing as anyone could be a threat to her safety. Luckily, she knows how to defend herself to which Wright captures very well, almost to a surprising degree. Not so surprising because of not believing in his ability as a director, whom I love, but shifting from his other works to this one just feels so jarring, especially with how cold it proves to be emotionally. Cold typically does not sum up Joe Wright films but from the frigid temperatures in Finland to the interactions held between Hanna and the other characters, no warmth ever truly comes out in this feature.
As a narrative, the plot has its simplicity with a woman named Marissa (Cate Blanchett) trying to take out the young Hanna. The reason why remains unclear for most of the movie but this little girl and her father need to be destroyed at all costs in the eyes of Marissa and the tactics she employs to do so get pretty dangerous. The plot then becomes a chase to see who will reach who and pull the trigger first and while it makes for some fun action sequences and chases, I kept waiting for the hammer to drop. For something to have a deeper meaning, but unfortunately it never really arrived. By the time the credits rolled, it ended with a fun line but just concluded the story. It remains tight on a narrative sense with no loose ends, however, as a result, the narrative feels too clean and emotionless with how it wraps up. This never made me realize how much I enjoy some loose ends with my stories.
As far as performances, everyone here does just fine with the material given to them with Eric Bana mostly keeping a serious face for most of the movie, Cate Blanchett trying to look evil at every turn, and then Saoirse Ronan attempting to be menacing and cold at the same time. Ronan does a particularly good job of selling the unsocialized aspect of her character when she gets out there and begins to interact with “normal” people. She maintains a level of cuteness but her look stands out amongst others, which makes for an intriguing role for Ronan at such a young age.
Enjoyable as a straight-action flick but providing nothing deeper in relation to its narrative left me a bit disappointed with this feature. It still succeeds overall as it sets up all the players well, lays out the intentions they have for others, and the means they have in order to complete the job. The action gets captured in riveting fashion and displays one of the famous Joe Wright one-take sequences where you have Eric Bana taking out some random henchmen. It would not be a Wright film without one.