Movie Review - Hanna
There is a moment when Saoirse Ronan, who plays Hanna, is walking through a snowy forest and later walking through a rocky, desert expanse that I thought of her performance in Peter Weir's The Way Back. Similarities in landscapes, if only for two brief moments, are really where the comparisons stop. Ronan's character in The Way Back has also lost people about which she cares but isn't turned into a well-trained, almost robotic teenage killing machine.
Hanna is fluent in many languages. She's strong and agile. She's schooled in martial arts, archery and ballistics. She's very smart. She may be socially awkward, but she knows how to adapt, and, as it seems, she may also be a bit of a lesbian.
Director Joe Wright first impressed me with his Oscar-nominated, tortured, wartime romance Atonement (2007), a film that was filled with surprises and splendid touches. Hanna has its splendid touches, its use of night-time photography, its depiction of Berlin, Germany, the musical score by The Chemical Brothers, but, unfortunately, it has little to absolutely no surprises.
Wright might think he's making some kind of modern-day Grimm's Fairy Tale with Cate Blanchett as the wicked witch. Except, instead of a broomstick and spells, Blanchett's Marissa Wiegler has a gun and DNA interference. Wright might also think he's making, as Armond White has said, "a thinking-person's Kick-Ass," a comic book movie featuring a fearless little girl killing machine.
It's clear, however, that Wright has crafted a vengeance tale. The problem is that the marketers of this movie left little to the imagination. If you've seen the trailer for this movie, which I did during the front of several films leading up to this one's release, then already so much of the movie has been given away. Hanna is going after Wiegler. The outcome of which becomes quite predictable.
It's so predictable that Wright shows you that outcome in the very first scene. Almost every thing after and in between is easily guessed by the audience. Yes, the scenes are well choreographed, but you always know how they'll end. This will be an obscure reference, but there is a British TV series called Hollyoaks, which staged a fight scene between its characters of Warren Fox and Brendan Brady in March 2011. It wasn't as intense or as realistic as the fights in Hanna, but at least the ending couldn't have been guessed.
Another problem is screenwriters Seth Lochhead and David Farr make the motives and the back story a bit too complicated and confusing. Unlike a Park Chan-wook vengeance film, there's no simplicity here. Eric Bana (Hulk and Munich) plays Erik Heller, the man who raises Hanna and trains here. Obviously, Hanna needs someone like him, but it's never explained why he's done so. Essentially, he prepares Hanna for the day when she'll confront Wiegler. Erik used to work for Wiegler, but we're never told why he turns on the ruthless CIA operative. He also has a machine that sends out a signal telling Wiegler where he is and the question is why have that machine at all.
With his knowledge and abilities, Erik and Hanna could have lived out their whole lives in hiding and been perfectly fine. If Erik is the one who sets these events in motion or is someone who becomes a key figure, then his motives and his journey needed to be flushed out more.
Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for violence, action, some sexual material and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 51 mins.