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Screen » Film

Fractured Fairy Tale: Hanna's action yarn falls short

The Source's review of the new action film Hanna.


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Director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, The Soloist) knows how to make a film look good, even with actors emoting all over the screen. Yet even with all of Hanna's fireworks, Wright plays it too safe by the end. Sure, he puts all the pieces together in a visually stunning manner with equal parts action and story, but there's still something hollow at the core of Hanna.

This is the teenage version of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Right off the bat, we're introduced to the action with father (Eric Bana) and daughter Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) practicing fighting skills in some remote snowy region, kind of like in Rocky IV, but with more archery. And these are no run-of-the-mill skills; they are down-and-dirty, kill-or-be-killed tactics. She's being trained for a mission to kill a cunning intelligence operative (Cate Blanchett) who has been expecting such an assassination attempt for years. Hanna sets out across Europe and through a myriad of adventures discovers some secrets about her past.

Hanna's initial revenge setup seems too simple and the twists are divulged mostly through conversations that take place between the running, fighting, and killing. Through her diligence, Hanna proves her mettle. There's an underlying fairy tale here that alludes to the Wicked Witch and Snow White, but its plundered by all the action.

Hanna's childhood seclusion allows her quest to unravel in wide-eyed wonderment at the modern world, which brings a nice touch to Ronan's (Lovely Bones, Atonement) acting style. Ronan's intelligence contrasts with her innocence. Her fascination of her surroundings, people and music is perfectly fused with her primal bewilderment of how little she truly understands the modern world. Bana is convincing as the caring super-spy Dad while Blanchett (employing an inexplicable Southern drawl) seems to be having plenty of diabolical fun as the wicked witch/evil agent.

Hanna has some nice quiet moments alongside blood-pumping action. Assisted by the Chemical Brothers' reliable soundtrack, Wright gives us an arty light show complete with crazy camera tricks and shots from every possible angle. Yet, when all is said and done, Hanna's finesse somehow wallows too often in its own self-awareness.



Starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander

Directed by Joe Wright

Rated PG-13


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