Hanna – film review

IMDB has this to say about Hanna : “A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.” (www.imdb.com/title/tt0993842/)

On the strength of this, I was resigned to seeing a run-of-the-mill chasing & shooting film, but Hanna is a quality item. Directed by Joe Wright (Atonement and Pride & Prejudice), there is a dream-like quality to the film, always balancing on the edge between reality and fable.

Seth Lochhead, the writer – in his first full-length feature – has constructed a story shot through with – above all – fairy tale references. Alongside this, there are many other recurring themes, notably those of music, which (on top of a stonking soundtrack from The Chemical Brothers) is re-visited over and over in the plot; and the parent/child relationship.

This makes Hanna sound dry and cerebral – it’s anything but, and it leaps off the screen from the first moment to the last, thanks also to the sumptuous and inventive cinematography of Alwin Kuchler, who knows how to fill a screen with complex images that stay in the mind long after the film is over.

Hanna’s star is Saoirse Ronan (13-year old Briony in Atonement), an inspired piece of casting, as her other-worldly, pale and willowy gravity is in shock contrast to her character’s extreme actions. The camera lingers on close-ups of Hanna’s still child-like face in the same way as it did on Chloe Moretz’s rosebud mouth in Kick Ass.

Saoirse Ronan carries what is, after all, a highly improbable plot – and she does it with total conviction. You really believe in Hanna and the predicament she is in – at least for the duration of the film.

I haven’t mentioned Eric Bana as Hanna’s obsessive father, or Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander, who both turn in performances delivered with real menace.

Go and see Hanna and be surprised by a creative and stylish action film that breaks the stereotype.

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