Hanna is a young girl raised from birth by her father to be an expert tracker, hunter and assassin. For what mysterious purpose he has done this we are not really sure until one day she decides she is ready to leave their wilderness home and enter the outside world. The resulting film is a strange mix of realism, over the top violence and psychedelic MTV music video.
The action scenes are brilliantly choreographed and filmed with as few cuts as possible coupled with frenetic score from The Chemical Brothers. This brings the same fast paced action excitement that other films try to achieve with quick fire cutting whilst maintaining a sense of realism and avoiding the horrible feeling of disorientation you get when there are hundreds of cuts in every action sequence.
Essentially a coming of age film with some action sequences, Hanna has at least as many fun and charming character scenes as kick ass action scenes. Watching Hanna meet new people and form friendships and alliances for the first time in her life is charming and funny and just as interesting to watch as watching her kick the hell out of skinheads and shadowy government agents.
Hanna meets a lot of people on her journey through the world and it is refreshing to see that most of them are ordinary likeable people who are prepared to help a young woman in need rather than trying to take advantage of her. In fact it is often Hanna that is the one taking advantage of the assumptions other people make when they see her. It is charming to watch her experimenting for a while with being an actual teenage girl rather than a manufactured assassin. Of course the demands of the plot mean that this can’t be allowed to carry on for too long!
It has all been done before of course but where others rely on the well worn story and tropes, this film chooses to rely on the characters to maintain interest. The reasons for everything that is going on are boring and unoriginal but it is the way that it is presented that makes it more interesting to watch than the usual by-the-numbers action thriller.
Saoirse Ronan, not the obvious choice for an action lead, does an excellent job of portraying a young girl who in many ways is naive and unready for the modern world but who also has a wealth of experience and training in areas that most people will never have. She is convincingly vulnerable in social situations but, despite her frail appearance, is also able to be convincing in the frequent and demanding action scenes. It would be easy to give in to temptation and make the action cartoonish and over the top giving Hanna the appearance of having some kind of super powers but actually everything is done reasonably realistically which really helps the viewer to believe that this girl is actually capable of doing the things we are watching.
Marissa, played by Cate Blanchett, is the best of the supporting characters playing a government agent involved in Hanna’s mysterious past and hell bent on tracking her down. She is vicious and murderous but also hides an unfulfilled need. As the film progresses she becomes more and more manic and unhinged as the extent of her involvement and her desires are revealed. Tom Hollander is somehow amazingly camp and terrifying at the same time as Marissa’s sadistic thug Issacs and plays what is essentially a one-dimensional character with a lot more charm and interest than many other actors would bother with.
Eric Bana is unfortunately dull as Hanna’s father and trainer. He has little to do other than some standard speeches about the importance of training and many of his actions are quite inexplicable. There are some nice father/daughter touches but mostly I wasn’t interested in him at all. He does have a couple of good fight scenes though.
A fun little action film that does the job a lot better than many bigger budget and more “serious” offerings in the genre.