Hanna (2011)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 7.1/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 5/10

HANNA (2011) - Joe Wright

"You either adapt or you die."

That is the moral that 16-year old Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) lives by with her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana). Since she was two years old, Hanna has been trained by her father, an ex-CIA operative from Germany, to become a skilled assassin. Erik, knowing a secret that must remain hidden, goes incognito into the Arctic, running away from CIA officer Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), the agent who he trained Hanna to kill. The film follows Hanna as she splits up with her father, instructed to meet him again in Berlin as she is chased by Wiegler's men.

The first unique approach that Hanna takes is the setting. It is a confident unorthodox film that departs from your typical cliche action movie. Director Wright was most known for his two films Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. Cleverly, Wright took the elements of dark fairy tales and applied it here, enhancing the experience of a female going into the world for the first time. With The Chemical Brothers underscoring the music, Hanna takes a Kubrick like stand on childhood innocence confront the modern "synthetic" world. This idiosyncrasy drives Hanna more efficiently than most other action thrillers.

The second unique approach is the cinematography. Unlike the Jason Bourne films that rely on close shots and quick pans, Hanna takes the cinematography to a filmmaking level, giving depth to every frame, blurring the background when needed, gliding around the settings when needed. This creates a new dimension of style for action films.

However, despite that Hanna takes an aesthetic approach to the visual elements of an action film, not even those elements can save this film from its flaws. The first blemish is, surprisingly, the acting. Although several critics claim that the acting is superb, I argue that only Bana and Blanchett delivered, as they should have since they are both terrific actors. My contrasting point centers on Ronan. Her voice deliveries are generally monotonous and her facial expressions are mainly based upon attractiveness. For a good young actress like Dakota Fanning, she is able to fully transform herself from Fanning to whichever character she plays. An even better example, take the 2010 remake of True Grit. Hailee Steinfeld's portrayal of the headstrong Mattie Ross earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She is only 15. Saoirse Ronan, 18, is not Hanna in the movie. She is Ronan playing Hanna in the movie, meaning there exists a sense where Ronan still behaves like an actress in the film. Naturally, everything conveyed by her grows contrived and flat. She is bland, as toneless as she is unexciting.

The second and sadly the worst flaw is the narrative. Hanna runs at an hour and 51 minutes, almost two hours long. I promise you now that you will not understand what is going on until the last 30 minutes. This is due to the last 30 minutes revealing a "plot twist." However, Hanna performed inadequately. For a decent plot-twist-driven action like Unknown, the entire film's narrative is about Liam Neeson trying to figure out who he is and who stole his original identity. This builds up into the climax when the twist is finally revealed. Here in Hanna, the film legitimately bears no crux, no goal whatsoever. Even when Hanna is asked to meet her father in Berlin, the film trails off and emphasizes on other characterization elements that make this "meeting" irrelevant. In simplicity, the narrative sits like a defective plane. It doesn't know when to speed up or slow down, and worse, take off.

In conclusion, Hanna stands as a rather disappointing action thriller. Even with Bana and Blanchett assisting the cast, Ronan's performance treads on water throughout. And even with the film visually enhanced with great locations, sets, and beautiful cinematography, Hanna drags with its narrative. In summary, Hanna is equipped with every technicality that a good film needs, but ultimately it fritters away all of them, neglected by an absence of confident storytelling, walking unsteadily from beginning to end.

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