Monday, April 11, 2011

Film review: Hanna

Writer: David Farr, Seth Lochhead; story by Seth Lochhead
Director: Joe Wright
Producer: Leslie Holleran, Marty Adelstein, Scott Nemes
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden, Michelle Dockery
Coming-of-age Action/Adventure Fable
1 hour, 51 minutes

After cutting his teeth with the period films Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, Joe Wright ventured into contemporary drama with The Soloist. That turned out to be a misstep. But rather than returning to his comfort zone, he's pushed ahead in a different direction yet again with Hanna.

This is a sort of young girl's action movie, a Bourne Identity with a female teenager as the protagonist. It was conceived by British Columbia-born Seth Lochhead as his final project while at Vancouver Film School and it ended up making the top ten on Franklin Leonard's much-vaunted Black List of the best unmade screenplays a while back.

The story begins with a young Hanna who is raised in the wilds of Arctic Finland by her father. She is trained in martial arts and weapons, as well as multiple languages. This seems implausible, but the story requires a good dose of suspension of disbelief. If you're willing to grant that, it's makes for a fun ride.

This training for who-knows-what goes on for a little bit too long. But when she is captured by the CIA and ends up in Morocco, the story kicks into high gear. From there, she manages to escape and goes on an arduous journey to finding her way back to her father in Berlin. Of course, she gets to use all her martial arts, weapons and language skills.

The film makes good use of Brothers Grimm and fairy tale imagery. Joe Wright gives is quite a bit of style. Like the Dunkirk scene in Atonement, one action scene is shot entirely in one take but unlike the long take from Atonement there is actual drama and momentum.

The Chemical brothers provide a driving techno score à la Lola Rennt (Run, Lola Run). Although it is no longer original, for the most part it works very well.

The cast is, however, uneven. Saoirse Ronan and Eric Bana are very good. Their slight Teutonic accents are decent enough. I was less enamoured of Cate Blanchett. Her American drawl wasn't all that convincing and her character was quite one-dimensional.

Still, it makes for a fun two hours. Its weaknesses are minor and easily overlooked. Just sit back and enjoy.

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