Hanna Looks Great But Is That Enough: a Recommendation from Steve

The opening shot in Hanna, as the camera moves in to reveal Saoirse Ronan as the title character hunting a deer in a forest in Finland, is as good as anything I’ve seen in a movie this year. There are a number of other scenes in the movie that come close to matching it. So, how then does this movie fail to even make it into my top five? The story just doesn’t hold up. Not only is the story disappointing, there is almost a sense of feeling cheated that the magnificent direction isn’t connected to a story that deserves its beauty. I seem to recall having a similar feeling when I saw director Joe Wright’s earlier film, Atonement. Ronan, who was also in Atonement, is well cast as the 16 year old who is trained by her father (played by Eric Bana), a former CIA operative, in the aforementioned woods to be a perfect assassin. It is also a lot of fun watching Cate Blanchett as Marissa, a steely cold CIA agent who for some unknown reason wants Hanna dead. I also greatly enjoyed Tom Hollander as a killer that Blanchett has working for her in a very unofficial capacity. Overall, the cast is good, but I thought Bana’s role was dull, banal even. The father’s name is Erik. Eric plays Erik. The role is just about that interesting. The British family that Hanna joins up with certainly is quirky, maybe a bit too much so.

The problem with the story is that too many things just don’t make sense. Why does Hanna have to press a button on a homing device so that the CIA can find her? If Erik is supposedly such an elite assassin himself, why hasn’t he gone after Marissa himself? Why must Hanna be the one to kill her? There are also scenes that seem thrown in without being fully thought out. For instance, Hanna basically freaks out when she is in a room with an electric light and a television. Sure, she was raised in the wilds of Finland, far away from modern conveniences, but her reaction seems a bit over the top. After that scene, it seems that Wright figures he has established the fact that the modern world is shocking to Hanna and so she doesn’t react to anything else in that way for the remainder of the movie. Quite to the contrary, when she wants to find out information about her past, she has no problem using the internet. What? The worst of the scenes that make no sense are the ones involving Marissa’s obsessive dental care. What in the world were those supposed to mean? The story presents itself as a great mystery, but when the truth about Hanna’s past is finally revealed, it is anti-climatic to say the least. A final complaint: for an action movie, there are no grand action sequences and the fight scenes are a bit pedestrian. Despite all those complaints, I still enjoyed the movie, but I hope that some day Joe Wright finds a story that let’s his directing work truly shine.

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