Review: Hanna (2011)

Directed by: Joe Wright
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett

Everyone’s a fan of a good ol’ fashioned revenge thriller, even if the formula itself has been far from undiscernable for as far back as we can recall. Joe Wright’s latest effort Hanna fits the mold almost perfectly, and while it marks a noticeably bizarre turn for the acclaimed director, it also comes off as a little-more-than sporadically entertaining and refreshingly original actioner with a very likable female protagonist. Call it old school if you will, but when it comes down to it, Hanna is merely a solid film that excels whenever it can until it starts to fumble with a handful of the ideas we’re presented with as Hanna herself unrelentingly carries out her life’s mission.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve used “old school” as a means of describing Hanna‘s penchant for giving us as much information as it feels we deserve, even if what it deems satisfactory isn’t really enough. It’s hard to determine just what the film is going for in terms of narrative structuring, whether the minimalistic approach it eventually adheres to is what we were expecting all along or not. The involvement of certain characters becomes questionable, and although the central storyline itself becomes muddled by the inclusion of rather forgettable details, it’s hard to deny Hanna‘s appeal from a mostly technical and even mindless standpoint.

Aided wonderfully by a pulse-pounding score from the Chemical Brothers, Hanna‘s action sequences and the panache with which they’re presented are where Wright and the gang shine the brightest. Putting aside the notion of watching Hanna perpetually run toward and away from her destination of choice, her and father Erik’s combat expertise is a marvel to behold and partially overcomes the literal extremes to which the script goes to illustrate Hanna’s maturation as a young girl struggling to break from her previously sheltered existence. Again, the inclusion of several individuals becomes laughable given the semi-serious nature of Hanna’s existence and search for truth, but when it comes down it, it’s easy to see that a stereotypically German club owner/hitman and his skinhead lackies are present strictly for entertainment purposes.

Saoirse Ronan admirably handles the ins and outs of her character as always, adapting well physically and, above all, emotionally to the many trials and tribulations the already fragile young assassin must endure during such a perilous state of affairs. With ample chemistry present between her and just about everyone she stumbles across along the way, Ronan rests easily among a growing clique of young talents that show as much promise as any of today’s more seasoned veterans, onscreen father and mentor Bana included. Bana himself is adequate, yet Cate Blanchett fails to truly deliver as a convincing villain in spite of her favorable track record and expertise in portraying just about any character with relative ease. If anything, Tom Hollander as the aforementioned hired help is a thousand times more sinister regardless of his physical state, which is a shame, but true nonetheless.

As a whole, Joe Wright’s Hanna exhibits enough interesting qualities to establish itself as an ambiguously minimalistic if kinetic and appropriately tense action-thriller. Even though its structural integrity falters due in part to the narrative’s muddled intentions, Hanna‘s action and suspense-oriented moments help put it back on the right track in revealing just what our young heroine is fighting for. Ronan shines as bright as ever as the female lead, and thanks to a fantastic musical score, unique visual style and even an effective, subtle sense of humor, Joe Wright’s latest is both clever and an above average entry into the revenge thriller genre.

Rating: 7/10

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