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The previews for Joe Wright’s (Atonement) Hanna promise
a pretty standard action experience, but with one twist. The heroine is a young
16 year-old girl. The trailers are full of quickly-cut high-flying action
scenes. It’s sure to draw in a few action movie enthusiasts this Friday when it
I want to be there when those same people walk out of Hanna wondering to themselves what in the world they just sat through. Hanna is indeed full of some insanely choreographed action sequences, but the
entire film is paced with a European feel to it. Much like The American was
last year. Think of Hanna as Salt meets The American and you pretty much
know what you’re in store for.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) lives deep in the snowcapped Russian
mountains with her father Erik (Eric Bana) has been training her for these past
16 years. He’s been grooming her to be a deadly assassin. To be a complete,
ferocious fighting machine. Why’s he doing this? Well, it’s not really clear
from the beginning. We’re simply observers, watching as Hanna undergoes
rigorous training and studying, like it’s just part of her everyday routine.
We soon learn that Erik has been in hiding for a while. He’s
hiding from the CIA, specifically an operative in the CIA named Marissa (Cate Blanchett).
Marissa is one of those CIA agents who doesn’t play by the rules. She enlists
the help of nefarious characters to try and find Erik and Hanna, before they
can reach her.
Hanna’s backstory is soon revealed, but I won’t discuss it
much here. There are a few surprises later on that you’ll be glad I didn’t
spoil. What I did want to talk about is why this movie is so different from any
other movie you’ll see in wide release this year. This is an art house film all
the way. It’s as stylized as they come. During the first big chase scene you’ll
wonder if you’re watching an action movie, or if you have just stumbled into a
The pacing is slow and methodic. The movie doesn’t jump from
one plot point to the next as it pushes headfirst to a frenzied finish. Instead
it lingers between large action scenes with a story that’s much more poignant
than you might have expected. Here’s a girl that’s grown up in a log cabin in
the mountains. For 16 years she’s been cooped up, and now she’s been set loose
on the world. Her butt-kicking instincts aren’t nearly as interesting as
watching her interact with a completely foreign world. She meets a British
family along the way, and learns about interaction. It’s really rare that you
see a coming-of-age story mixed into an action film. It’s even more rare that
it actually works.
Hanna is a peculiar movie. One that has to be experienced.
One that a simple review just can’t convey. It’s definitely a different kind of
movie. Don’t you think that with summer of 2012 looming on the horizon with all
those brain-dead superhero movies coming our way, that you owe it to yourself
to check out something at the theater that’s completely original?