Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Barden
Everyone thought the same thing when they saw Atonement: "What a beautiful, flawless film. If only Saoirse Ronan had a gun." We get our wish with Hanna, Joe Wright's stylish Euro-thriller about a teenage girl (Ronan) raised in the wilds of Finland by Eric Bana. And like any teenage girl raised in the wilds of Finland by Eric Bana, Hanna is really good at killing people. Killing people. To death.
We first meet her stalking through the whites of a snow-filled forest, eyeing up a deer with a bow and arrow. "I just missed your heart," she says, in a way that would make Hit-Girl shudder. That's how she's been raised by daddy Erik (Bana), until the day she hits sixteen and is set loose on the real world.
Away from her rogue agent father, Hanna attracts the interest of another CIA officer, Marissa (Blanchett). Equally ruthless, Marissa hunts down Hanna using a deadly combination of a thick Southern accent and a menacing grin. She's as emotionally unbalanced as her wig. It's a great turn by Blanchett, but her thunder is stolen by the world's most unlikely henchman: Tom Hollander.
It's not every day you see a 5' 5" man sporting a yellow tracksuit and a peroxide trim, let alone one with a Dutch accent. Short, violent and gay, Hollander's diminutive psycho is an odd blend of garish silliness and nasty threat. He's the perfect fit for Wright's production, which sits between fairy tale and action flick with unnerving precision.
The director's made no secret about the influence of David Lynch upon the film. Things never quite reach that level, although we do get a large helping of gingerbread houses and flashing red lights. But Wright's work is subtler than that. Framing events with a cool hand, he picks out circles all over the place, from ice-strewn lakes to prison cell doors.
He has the compositional flair of Anton Corbijn but matches that up with some surprisingly hard-hitting action. One stunning set piece sees Eric Bana take down six men in a Berlin subway with his bare hands. All in a seamless five-minute tracking shot.
Expertly shot by Sunshine's Alwin Kuchler, there are no chaotic handhelds to distract from Hanna's emotional tale. Her progression from naive assassin to lost girl has a pathos that rivals Never Let Me Go. And that's largely down to Ronan's incredible, muted performance. One scene sees her connect with spoilt freckled teen Sophie (Barden) in the back of a camper van, a delicate contrast to the action sequence that immediately follows, which sees her sprinting over shipping yard containers dodging bullets.
Packed with sadness and adrenaline, Joe Wright's Hanna plays out to a pounding soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers. Of course, it's all a load of old nonsense, but it's moving nonsense. With guns.
Bold and disarming, Hanna really shouldn't work but by heck, it does.
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