It is amazing how some good films can really sneak up on you. I had never even heard of this film until the week it came out. How could I be so out of the loop? It is directed by the great Joe Wright and stars Eric Bana, Saoirse Ronan, and Cate Blanchett. That is quite a line up to fly under the radar with.
Director Joe Wright, known for powerful literary adaptations, steps out of his comfort zone and tries his hand in the action genre. At first thought you might think he is selling out his roots, but this film is more then just a simple minded action film. It tells a very specific story involving some very interesting characters. Instead of packing the movie with wall to wall action, the screenplay takes the time to create interesting people and provide them engaging dialogue. The violence and action is generated by motivations rather than existing for no reason.
Ronan plays a sixteen year old girl who has been raised in an isolated forest in Finland by her father played by Bana. He has trained her to become a deadly assassin then dispatches her on a dangerous mission. Blanchett plays a government agent who is determined to stop her at all costs. Most studio films of this nature would settle for a series chases and fight sequences but “Hanna” wants to be more then that.
Hanna has never been had contact with anybody but her father. In the opening moments of the film we see her kill a deer with a bow and arrow followed by her father engaging her in martial arts. Out on the road she comes across a family that is travelling in a caravan. She has dinner with them. They consist of a son, daughter and two parents. They talk about life and traveling. Hanna looks overwhelmed by these topics having never talked to anybody but her own father before.
Eventually she ends up on the road with this family, and at one point has a night out with some boys. But she is almost caught at every stop by ruthless killers. When she does make contact we then get a full sense of everything she has learned. The fight sequences are not just filmed in extreme close ups by a jittery camera guy, then chopped up in the editing room. We get a clear images of the skills that Hanna has learned.
I find it amazing that Joe Wright took on the tast of directing this film. In one film he has put to shame the directors of such films as “The A-Team”, and “Battle: Las Angeles”. Those films were a mess of chaotic images. Here is a movie that is not only an exciting visual treat but is also an engaging character study.