Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hanna (2011)

Lately, it seems that there has been an infatuation in the film industry with unlikely assassins. In this case, it's a young girl named Hanna, portrayed by the talented Saoirse Ronan (who you may remember from her Oscar-nominated performance in "Atonement" and her role in Peter Jackson's misguided adaptation of "The Lovely Bones"). Last year, it was Chloe Moretz in "Kick-Ass" who played the young assassin, entertaining us with her ability to overpower victims who were over three times her age.

However, unlike Kick-Ass, which served no purpose but to entertain, Hanna engages you not with humor or CGI, but with splendid cinematography and mystery. The film opens in Finland, surrounded by nothing but woods and snow, and we are immediately introduced to Hanna, who not only possesses the ability to speak practically every language, but is also a cold blooded assassin. At least that is what her father (Eric Bana) is teaching her to be.

Of course, the main thought that comes to your head is why? Why is she being trained to be an assassin at such a young age? Why is she living in isolation with her father? And it's those questions that keeps you intrigued with the film throughout its entirety. Whether the answers satisfiy you or not is a different story, but, it is what will keep you wondering.

Not to say that the film is completely serious. While Hanna knows nothing but living on a day-to-day basis, hunting game with her father and doing what needs to be done to survive (Not unlike America's favorite heroine, Katniss Everdeen), humor abounds, when throughout the film, Hanna must part from her father, and is exposed to things that any normal teenage girl should be exposed to -- boys, television, even magic tricks.

And this is where Saoirse Ronan's acting ability really shines. She portrays the wide-eyed innocence necessary to make the viewer believe how different Hanna really is from the typical teenage girl. And not to mention her ability to nail a German accent. Only seventeen years old, she has a very bright future ahead, no doubt.

Along the way, Hanna is being chased by a ruthless CIA agent (Cate Blanchett), and that is where the story begins. It is imperative that the CIA locates Hanna and her father, but again, we do not know why. As the film progresses, details arise, stories are told, and eventually the viewer is able to piece it together.

Saoirse Ronan as Hanna
The film really works solely because of Ronan. Bana and Blanchett provide a very reliable supporting cast, but unless Ronan could convince the audience that Hanna really is an ultimate fighting, innately skilled, teenage cold-blooded assassin, then there is no point. And Saoirse Ronan does.

Of course, credit must also be given to director Joe Wright, who also directed Ronan in "Atonement" and is also known for his 2009 film "The Soloist." Still shy of 40 years old, Wright has shown that he is a very capable filmmaker.

One may be disappointed if they were expecting a fierce action thriller, as the film moves at different paces. At one moment Hanna is fighting off three CIA agents at a time in awesome fashion -- with tricky camera techniques to accentuate the action -- and the next moment she is befriending a teenage girl, or an old man, and discovering the intricacies that the modern day world has to offer along her travels. It's an action movie, filled with mystery, filled with suspense.

How the plot ties together towards the end may very well affect your opinion of the film as a whole, but for me, I was already long drawn into the world that Joe Wright and Saoirse Ronan had created.

~ Review by Ddubbs

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