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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hanna (2011)

Hanna is a teenaged girl raised in the arctic circle by her secret agent father (Eric Bana). She is the result of a scientific experiment and he has raised her to be a remorseless killing machine. Her target is a CIA agent (Cate Blanchett) who wants her dead. She basically goes on a road trip from the arctic to Morocco and through Europe, both as the hunted and the hunter. What follows is a short film that feels long, a good film that wants to be great, and a really kick-ass soundtrack by the Chemical Brothers.

Joe Wright's Hanna is, in my opinion, a small film with big ambitions that never quite reaches its potential. Throughout the film, I could not help but compare it to other films; The Professional, Species, Eve of Destruction, The Bourne Identity and even Hideous Kinky in some scenes. What's the difference? Hanna is better than most of the films in the "unexpected assassin goes on a rampage" subgenre, but it projects the pretense of intending so much more, and it never really delivers. The title "Hanna" suggests a palindromic film that will, in some way, defy the expectations of the audience by diverting from the expected plot and character arcs. Sadly, Hanna is predictable. It ends the way it begins, with no true catharsis or character development. That's a shame, because the cinematography by Alwin H. Kuchler is stellar. The performances by Ronan, Bana and Blanchett are spectacular. And yet, the overall story cannot support such profound performances. Tom Hollander's character of Isaacs, the assassin, is obviously meant to channel Dim from A Clockwork Orange but the character creates a sense of self-conscious unease, rather than terrifying malice. It's not that Hollander can't act--it's that he has a badly drawn character, one that is designed to be a two-dimensional trope we've seen a million times before. Ronan is, of course, spectacular, but her character has nowhere to go. She is both a little girl and a killing machine, which makes for an interesting fish out of water story; but it's also a bit boring. Shouldn't exposure to the outside world change her in some way? Develop her sense of self? The middle of the film, in which Hanna meets a family in Morocco and learns a little about human interaction, had me hopeful. But then we go back to the killing. And while the action scenes are fine, they're not great enough to define the film as balls to the wall action film. In short, Hanna is unsure of its genre and falls short of its grand intentions.