Weekend Roundup: HANNA review

I finally venture out into the theater after about a month of a lot of home cinema viewing. All the great reviews on HANNA got me really curious to check it out on opening weekend. It wasn’t powerful enough to defeat HOP in the box office, but managed to finish second with $12.4 million, which is nearly half its production budget. I was considering Soul Surfer as well, which is based on an inspirational true story on a young girl who overcame a shark attack through her strong belief in God. But as I had suspected, the RT consensus said it’s an amazing story that’s ‘drowned by waves of Hollywood cheese.’ I still might check it out on rental though. Oh, I also saw The Book of Eli, which will be reviewed at a later date.

HANNA

Hanna is a movie I’ve been curious about for quite a while, as I blogged about it last June. The cast alone is enough to get me to watch it, Saiorse Ronan is one of my top ten Irish actors, and Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana are two of my all time fave Aussie thespians. But after the trailer was released, I was sort of cool on it as the theme of a child assassin isn’t exactly hot on my must-see list. Yet, to say the title role a child assassin or killing machine is oversimplifying it.

The film opens with Hanna hunting a deer in a deep Finnish wilderness, letting the viewers right away of what kind of training the young protagonist is subjected to by her father, Erik Heller (Bana). Both of them live in a secluded cabin, with no modern amenities/technology nor any connection with the outside world for the past sixteen years. We know that for a measure so drastic, there has to be something huge that they’re preparing for or to survive against, but we’re not told why. The only thing we learn is that Erik has some ties to the CIA, and that their ‘nemesis’ that Erik ceaselessly warns Hanna about is Marissa Wiegler (Blanchett), a CIA officer.

Blanchett + Bana = Great Aussie Duo!

What I like about this film is its puzzle-like quality and how adept the filmmaker is in keeping the big picture under wraps and only revealing the mystery bit by bit, as we learn alongside Hanna what is happening around her and the reason she ‘exists.’ It’s an existential thriller at its core, which reminds me to the Bourne movies, without the shaky hand-held camera style that they’ve been known for.

Hanna w/ Sophie in one of her few ‘lighter’ parts of her tough journey

I personally am glad Joe Wright isn’t copying Paul Greengrass’ style though, but yet still able to create compelling suspenseful sequences that keep us in the edge-of-your-seat virtually the entire time. There are funny bits throughout, mostly during the time Hanna meets up with a free-spirited family vacationing in Morocco, with Sophie, the teenage girl who befriends Hanna, being the much-needed comic relief in the movie.

For those unfamiliar with the filmmaker, Wright is known for his period dramas Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, both of which I adore (hence their inclusion in my Cinematic Alphabet). He’s made a foray into modern drama with The Soloist, which I’m not too impressed with, but in his fourth feature film, Wright certainly proved he’s got the chops to be an action director. Known for his long tracking shots, such as this Dunkirk scene in Atonement, he did it again with Eric Bana‘s fight scene in the underground station. Armed with crafty and sharp cinematography, as well as the high-octane score by The Chemical Brothers, Wright created an exhilarating journey as we follow Hanna from the Polar Circle, through Morocco, Spain and finally Berlin where she’s supposed to reunite with her father.

Hanna isn’t exactly an ‘enjoyable’ fare, it’s not a ‘warm and fuzzy’ kind of movie, but the fast-paced chase is exhilarating and it’s got everything you want in a suspense film. What I enjoyed most is the performances, especially Ronan and Blanchett, the later never cease to amaze me with her acting prowess, she pulls off a Southern accent convincingly, but that’s only a small part in what makes her ruthless character believable. Bana is always watchable though I wish he had a bit more screen time with Blanchett, while the rest British supporting cast: Tom Hollander, Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams are all good in their respective roles.

Ronan, who’s barely 17 years old, is the true revelation here in the title role. She certainly has what it takes to follow in Blanchett footsteps (she probably is there already) and has that ‘transformative’ acting quality about her that’s a sign of acting greatness, check out the photo of her in the movie and what she looks like in real life. She’ll undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with amongst young Hollywood, I look forward to more of her work. Sounds like she’d reunite with Wright for the third time in Leo Tolstoy adaptation Anna Karenina, and rumor has it Wright is courting James McAvoy to join as well, which would be terrific. [ed. note: Well it turns out she didn’t end up getting the role of Anna, Keira Knightley did instead]

All in all, Hanna is a smart thriller that would definitely satisfy fans of action films, but even if suspenseful thrillers aren’t your thing, it’s still worth a watch just for the cast.

4Reels


Well, what did you end up seeing this weekend? Or if you got to see HANNA, what are your thoughts on the film?

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31 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: HANNA review

  1. Ted S.

    I had no clue that this film was directed by the same guy who did Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. I’ve never seen any of his work but just surprised he did this movie since it look kind of cheesy. I might give a rent.

    I like to hear what you think of The Book of Eli, I liked that movie until the last 20 minutes or so and that ending. I had to yell out, no freaking way!

    1. You’ve never seen any of Joe Wright’s work? Better get on it, Ted 🙂 Atonement is wonderful, I know you’re not into romance stuff but it’s worth it, trust me. Hanna is probably right up your alley though, especially since you like Bourne.

      I like the Book of Eli, in fact, it grows more engaging as the time wears on. I’m a Christian so naturally I have no problem with the Bible-themed plot. It is a book worth saving, it’s not a myth.

      1. Ted S.

        His films aren’t my cup of tea but I might give Hanna a rent. I do like Eric Banna and Cate Blanchett. It looks like Banna’s window of becoming a big name leading man is closing in on him since he’s been in more supporting role in the last couple of years.

        I don’t have a problem with the Bible plot line but I have a huge problem when we found out at the end that (spoiler for those who have never seen the movie) Denzel’s character’s blind through out the movie. I just blurted out, no freaking way!

  2. That sounds right up my street, so far in fact that I think I may be moving in!!

    I do like a man (or girl) on the run type movie like the Bourne flicks, and from your review I get the idea that this one is for me.

    Sometimes I hate living in the UK and having to wait so long to see films.

    Makes me cry 😦

    Great review Mrs Flix

    C

    1. The Bourne comparison is inevitable but the story is very different and she’s not exactly a heartless killing machine the way they depict her in the trailer.

      I hope this arrives in the UK soon Custard. Thanks for reading, mate.

    2. Irina

      Well, we do get to see some movies first, before they are released in the States. Not that many but still… so don’t you cry Custard! 🙂
      I am very much looking forward to seeing Anna Karenina adaptation. Ronan is indeed a very good actress, though she looks nothing like I imagined Anna to be 😦

  3. Paula

    I’ve only seen the trailer on this, but it looks good. I don’t really want to know if I’m right or not, since I probably will see this, but i predict X-Files-esque DNA modification is involved, possibly from Blanchett’s character… 😉

    I cannot believe that this girl is only 17. She looks younger, but she’s already such a pro.

    1. I’m not gonna say anything as it’d spoil it for you. That’s kinda what I thought too going into it.

      Saiorse is definitely wise beyond her years. Her acting talent is amazing for someone so young and she’s able to transform herself for various roles which is a talent in itself.

  4. This definitely has a Bourne vibe to it and has been on my radar for some time now. Haven’t got around to seeing it yet but I definitely want to. With all the good reviews it’s getting as well, just makes me that much more excited to see it. Maybe this next weekend I can get to it.

  5. Sounds like a nice thriller to check out. I probably won’t see it in theater but definitely looking forward to it on Netflix in a few weeks ahah… Nice review Ruth 🙂

        1. PrairieGirl

          Oh, Castor, you don’t know HOW good that sounds, “Rufus Sewell just got a role.”… You are certainly the bearer of fantastic news!

  6. Mike

    Interesting movie. A teen girl that’s got killer skills. I wonder if my daughter’s would enjoy this?!?! (kidding lol). If it comes up on my pay-for-view listing I think I’ll give it a whirl. 4 reels with out taste being very much the same how can I not!

    1. No, I DON’T recommend this for Amanda and Valerie [sp], Mike. I think you’ll appreciate this smart thriller though, it’s fast-paced and keeps you on your toes the entire time.

  7. Glad that FC rated this one so high! I’ve been wanting to check it out! Now that vacay is over, I may venture to the theater to check it out! High praise stating that Ronan could easily be walking in Blanchett’s footsteps!

    Nice review!

    1. Yeah it’s a pretty darn good thriller, the plot is better than Adjustment Bureau I think, though it doesn’t have the love story part that’d keep me interested to watch repeatedly.

      Ronan really is phenomenal, she’s definitely the one to watch for amongst young Hollywood and I’m glad she’s not a flashy actress, I mean, she still lives with her parents in Ireland!

  8. great review!

    I really want to see this one, it seems like a film I would enjoy.

    Also that news about the Anna Karenina adaptation is very interesting, it’s one of my favourite books and I’ve often wondered how it would turn out if it was adapted…

    1. Thanks Jack, welcome to FC! Yeah, Anna Karenina is one of those stories I don’t mind seeing being adapted over and over, I’m a sucker for an unabashedly romantic tale and given how I like Atonement, I think Joe Wright is the right man for the job.

    1. Well someone w/ the name Ronan is bound to be very talented 😀 I think you’ll enjoy it, it’s not a super flashy thriller Hollywood often turns out and the plot is definitely engrossing.

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  10. Fantastic review, Ruth! I liked this movie too, and I thought Saiorse Ronan was terrific. As you said, trying to describe the premise of this movie simply — “it’s about a child assassin” — doesn’t come close to doing it justice. It’s really a film about the myriad little things that make us human.

    1. Hello Steph! Glad to hear you like this one. I’m always intrigued by films that explore our humanity. It’s one of the more intriguing action sci-fi that gives you a lot of stuff to ponder. We need more movies like this and Eric Bana needs to get more roles! 😀

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