Joe Wright’s latest film isn’t all bad, but as an overall package it falls short.
Hanna is the coming of age story of, funnily enough, Hanna – a young girl who has been raised in the forest by a man named Erik, who is played by Eric. I’m not sure if Mr. Bana was cast purely on the strength of his name, but I think it was a bit of a misfire; he never seems comfortable in the role, and while he tries his hardest throughout and does nail a few action sequences, he wasn’t right for the part. Cate Blanchett also feels a bit miscast as a sinister CIA agent, maybe it’s just me getting used to her in fairly light roles (Burn After Reading, LOTR, The Life Aquatic etc) but I didn’t feel like she adapted to the darker character easily. There’s a similar issue for Tom Hollander who, after playing roles in Pride & Prejudice, Gosford Park, POTC and John Adams, also feels out of place as a bizarre camp German. It’s not that I’m suggesting actors can’t be versatile, but if an audience is familiar with them playing a certain character, it isn’t easy to break that preconception.Â The strong link in the cast is Saoirse Ronan who continues to make a name for herself with another exemplary performance.
The film is essentially an action movie, with the numerous fist fights, high tempo chases and plot twists feeling reminiscent of the Bourne series. In that sense it reminded me of that recent Liam Neeson film, Uknown;Â it attempts a re-imagining and relocating of some of Bourne’s key features, but does them nowhere near as effectively. One of the film’s fundamental flaws is that it’s stuck between being an accessible movie for young girls/boys while also being a gritty action thriller. Personally, I think the casting suggests they were going for the former – however, there are a few moments, in particular some executions carried out by Hanna, that veer away from this.
The idea behind Hanna isn’t particularly strong or original, but the execution is Â pretty good. The visuals and soundwork are conceived in a very modern style, and while this doesn’t necessarily appeal to me, it will get a lot of cinemagoers onboard. The cuts are sharp and extremely frequent, meaning few shots last more than a couple of moments. This creates a frantic pace which is exciting at first, but eventually gets a bit OTT and becomes draining. There’s a distinct lack of dynamism with this kind of filmmaking, especially when you’re working towards a predictable ending.
The film’s score is an original composition, written by electronica duo The Chemical Brothers. It’s a vibrant, upbeat soundtrack, that’s actually pretty good to listen to on its own. However, it’s a little overloud and overused in the film, conspiring to make certain scenes overwhelming. That’s a fault with the sound editor I guess.
Interestingly the script for Hanna has been in circulation for years, appearing on the 2006 and 2009 ‘Black List’, an annual list of the best unproduced screenplays of the year (thanks, IMDB). In truth, the screenplay would be more appreciated had it stayed on the list, because this eventual production is a rather tame effort. Most viewers will probably find themselves moderately entertained, but there’s nothing here to blow you away.