Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Movie Review: Hanna (2011)

Hanna (2011)
Director - Joe Wright
PG-13; 111 Min
Saoirse Ronan - Hanna
Eric Bana - Erik
Cate Blanchett - Marissa

The simple title of the film Hanna aptly refers to the young teen who remains on screen for almost all of the 111 minute film.  Saoirse Ronan (you know her from Atonement and The Lovely Bones) is chillingly convincing as a girl raised by her father (Eric Bana) as far away from civilization as possible, somewhere near the Arctic Circle.  Having no other human interaction and definitely no TV, Hanna is taught to fend for herself, to hunt, to build, to fight, to think her way through anything.  She spends all of her time doing these things and learning everything she can from the books in their meager cabin.  She is pushed very hard by her father for a purpose we eventually discover, but are not quite sure of as the film begins.  Hanna is mentally and physically tough in ways teenagers just aren't, which works well in her world of snow and seclusion, but not necessarily so well when she eventually find herself in the real world.

I'm not a huge fan of being spoon fed plot details and I would actually be willing to claim that I have a sick need for finding films that make me think about what is happening, and what I like about much of this film is that it does unfold with a cloak of mystery.  Even if you guess a few of the details throughout you are not being hit over the head with what is happening.  Unfortunately there are about 3 staggering issues that come up which are never fully explained and I find no way of ever really getting a good answer as to how or why they happened, but I won't spoil this review with any of those - you'll most likely find them on your own.

The action in this film feels very appropriate, with very well shot chase scenes and some pretty intense violence at times, but then the director does something wonderful and he pulls back and takes a look at the human side of Hanna and lets her explore her new world.  After she seemingly completes a mission which sends her out of her only known frigid existence, Hanna stumbles upon a traveling family whom she, as best she can, befriends.  There are some interesting dynamics at work in these scenes when you take into account what we know about Hanna and the rest of the world and I found much of the shots during this part of the film to be done with great thoughtfulness.

As is the case with most action movies the last third of the film is filled a bit too much with some sequences I could have done without, and though I certainly won't give away any actual details of the ending, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that it let me down in a way I really wish it hadn't.  Otherwise this was a wonderful film for this time of the year with a nice cast which includes Cate Blanchett as an agent who is heavily mixed up in the reasons behind Erik and Hanna being who they are and she plays her role as a cold and calculating woman with a single minded approach, almost too emotionless.

**** out of 5

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