A young girl is brought up to be a cold, effective killer by an equally capable father, who is driven by revenge. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Hanna was simply a “Hit Girl” spin-off from Kick Ass but that’s not the case at all. Instead, we have a movie that blends some fantastic action set-pieces with an off-kilter, surreal landscape almost like putting Mathilda from Leon on assignment in some theme park dedicated to Roald Dahl. A lot of people may disagree with my point of reference but there’s certainly something in the way that the movie is shot, blending the fights and danger with the perspective of a child entering the big, bad world for the first time and blinking in wide-eyed innocence in between moments of reflexive self-preservation.
Eric Bana plays the father while young Saoirse Ronan gives an excellent performance as the titular young lethal weapon. Cate Blanchett is the villain of the piece and goes about her duties in a manner not unlike that of the the Queen who wanted to have Snow White disposed of. In fact, the fantastic Tom Hollander could almost be tagged as the huntsman of the piece, though he is not the kind character from the fairytale. Varying support comes from Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden and Aldo Maland, all doing okay but saddled with a layer of quirkiness that becomes less effective when spread around more and more of the movie.
The script by Seith Lochhead and David Farr isn’t bad but it’s not as smart as you think it might be. The film may certainly be a layered one, but those layers are contained within the visuals and the stylistic choices as opposed to the dialogue and, admittedly enjoyable, action sequences.
Director Joe Wright gets to take most of the credit here. However, he’s helped immensely in his quest to provide superior entertainment by an absolutely barnstorming soundtrack from The Chemical Brothers so I thought I’d mention them here before my shocking memory lets me down once more. But back to Wright, a director who would seem to be a most unusual choice for this material (his previous outings include Atonement and Pride & Prejudice). Perhaps Wright always wanted to make this kind of movie as well as everything else in his filmography or perhaps the film feels so strange and unique precisely because it’s not the sort of thing that he would normally have anything to do with. Whatever the case, we can just be thankful that director and script came together at the right time to give audiences something so enjoyable.
It’s certainly not a perfect movie but it’s almost a great one. An action movie that delivers the requisite thrills while also providing viewers with plenty to mull over from the very beginning to well after the credits roll. Well worth a watch.
DIRECTOR: JOE WRIGHT
WRITER: SETH LOCHHEAD, DAVID FARR
CAST: SAOIRSE RONAN, ERIC BANA, CATE BLANCHETT, TOM HOLLANDER, OLIVIA WILLIAMS, JASON FLEMYNG, JESSICA BARDEN, ALDO MALAND
RUNTIME: 111 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: UK, USA, GERMANY