HANNA Film Review

Hit Girl: The Movie

Release Date: OUT NOW!
12A * 111 mins
Distributor: Universal Pictures International
Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Olivia Williams, Tom Hollander

Part fairytale, part spy-fi, Hanna is as fascinated by themes of innocence lost as it is with thinking up new and alarming ways in which a little girl can snap a bad guy’s neck.

Directed by Joe Wright, best known for upmarket fare like Atonement, the movie opens on a snow-laden forest as a young girl wrapped in furs stalks her prey like a ninja. This straggle-haired wild girl is Hanna (The Lovely Bones’ Saoirse Ronan; pronounced “sear-sha”), who lives in the forest with her father (Bana), a rogue agent who has been training his daughter from infancy to assassinate his old boss (Blanchett, playing the Wicked Witch of Armani). Captured by the agency, Hanna escapes and hooks up with a hippy family travelling across North Africa in a camper van, as she eludes the agents drafted in to take her down.

It’s more road movie than chase movie, less interested in driving the plot than it is in immersing you in Hanna’s worldview. Through Hanna’s eyes, the adult world is by turns dazzling, threatening and absurd, her alienation captured in dialogue that demonstrates unmistakable child logic: when asked by a concerned adult what her mother died of, Hanna replies, “three bullets.” Ronan’s unsentimental yet sensitive performance pretty much carries the film.

As a thriller, however, Hanna severely disappoints. Tom Hollander’s Big Bad Wolf character, a freelance killer, never gets to run amok; while Eric Bana occupies a desperately underwritten role as Hanna’s father (surely the real villain of the piece). Co-written by Spooks writer David Farr there’s some thrilling action, including a brilliantly edited sequence in which Hanna smoothly escapes captivity to the tune of a wicked Chemical Brothers soundtrack, but excitement like this is sparse throughout.

The SF revelation which the movie heads towards will surprise no one, and only serves to explain away the magic of the director’s vision. As it stands, Hanna is a strange, at times hypnotic, fable about a damaged little girl. The movie never lets you forget that Hanna has endured what is essentially an abusive childhood, a notion that last year’s child-assassin movie Kick-Ass played for laughs. Alec Worley