08 April 2011


**** (4.5 stars)

I went to a screening last night and fell in love, almost immediately, with “Hanna”. Every scene is important to building the story of a young girl trained to fight, and fed on revenge for the death of her mother.

Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) and her father (Eric Bana) have lived in the arctic woods since she was a child. In that time, he has expanded her education past the World Books they read nightly, to include hunting, fighting, and survival. All of this is in preparation for the day she decides she is ready to face her nemesis, Marissa Weixler (Cate Blanchett); a CIA operative that killed her mother.

There have been movies before, and I'm sure after, that follow the struggles of a person raised away from society. The introduction of new words, new friends, music, animals, places; but here it never feel like a gimmick. Through the brilliant acting of Saoirse Ronan and great writing, we feel almost as if we're experiencing these things for the first time as well. While on the run, Hanna meets up with a family of British tourists who take her in. These are the first friends and people she has had real, true contact with in her life. It’s heartwarming and heart wrenching at the same time.

There's a bit of a divot in Cate Blanchett's performance, but I'm not sure it's her fault. How do I criticize what I also loved about the movie? That is, it's refusal to fill in the holes and missing pieces of the back story. We know what we need to know to move the story along, no more, no less. Still, I wish I knew more about what motivated her. Why, after all these years is she still stung by the one that got away? Why is she so evil? And, she really is. Blanchett plays her like a Southern mother that spits venom.

Director Joe Wright (“Atonement”, “Pride & Prejudice”) breaks out of his sober shell to create action sequences that rival the Bourne movies. The stylized fight sequences are brutal, though the mix of camera techniques could be distracting to those of us that pay attention to such things. DP Alwin Kuchler (“Morwan Caller”, “Sunshine”) has perfected this style of tight shots that seem to drift down to the audience. We never feel preached too, though we know exactly who is testifying. However, the editing keeps the action tight and on line. It’s violence that acts itself out, but is never gratuitous.

That the Chemical Brothers scored the movie seemed a bit weird to me at first, like a watered down “Tron: Legacy”, but I have to say they did an exceptional job. The music alerts us to the action ahead, but doesn’t over take it (hello Bourne) or foreshadow too greatly.

All in all, I highly recommend this movie to everyone. Go see it!

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