Missing the heart by an inch
Directed by: Joe Wright
Written by: Seth Lochhead, David Farr
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana
While the fast-paced action and sharp editing of Hanna turns an unlikely plot into something quite convincing and compelling, Hanna misses just inches away from the profoundly emotional and powerful tale that it seemed to be aiming for.
Isolated from the rest of the world, Hanna (Ronan) has been trained by her father, Erik (Bana), to kill at will, speak a range of different languages and trust nobody in the outside world. Despite her somewhat violent and confronting upbringing, Hanna is a little naive, innocent and as curious as any ordinary young teen girl would be. So when Hanna is finally released into the outside world, she enters an environment that is fascinating, frightening and beautiful, even if it does mean being chased to the ends of the earth by a couple of skinheads and CIA operative, Marissa (Blanchett), who is determined to get rid of both Hanna and her father.
As the film travels with Hanna over wintry forests, dry desert landscapes and the urban playgrounds of Europe, Wright’s visual style is given the perfect canvas on which he can play out heart-racing action, chase sequences and beautifully choreographed fight scenes.
That’s not to say Hanna is all body combat moves and gun shots. The film dedicates quality time to Hanna’s discovery of adolescence, friendships and family life as her contact with a traveling family in Egypt is bathed in sunlight and detailed, sensual encounters that allow us to see the world through Hanna’s fresh, curious eyes. Music also plays a major role in the film as Erik’s definition of music at the beginning of the film – read straight out of a matter-of-fact encyclopedia – finds new meaning and life in the world of interesting people, cultures and lifestyles that Hanna witnesses.
Despite the wonderfully sensual quality of Hanna, the film’s plot and structure follow one long chase. And while Hanna may never get tired of running, we sure as hell get exhausted by the end of the film. As the film progresses, the original excitement and intrigue that it builds seems to fall into an anticlimactic confrontation and resolution as Hanna’s mysterious past is revealed all too easily. And in this sense, the film loses its credibility and dramatic power.
The visual quality of the film is definitely Hanna‘s strength, but in the same way that Hanna misses the heart of a poor old wandering hefty moose-looking animal (I don’t actually know what it is) in the beginning of the film, this originally promising thriller misses the moving and engaging essence that underlies all its brilliant action.