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Hanna (2011)

April 25, 2011

6/10 Jane Rambos

When it kicks ass, it destroys, but there just ain’t enough to balance out the boring rest of it.

Hanna is about a teenage girl who lives with her father in the Arctic tundra and has spent her short life being molded by her pops into a perfect killing machine for the sole purpose of snuffing out a mysterious woman who she’s never even met. So when she finally reaches the peak of her abilities and starts wondering what life is like for 16-year-old girls who don’t know how to hunt and dress reindeer, her pops gives her free reign to open pandora’s box and within a matter of hours she finds herself in a secret service holding cell. These military chumps underestimate her, she proceeds to raise hell before breaking out like a total boss, and then she catches a lift with some road-trippin’ family who helps her learn about the real world while she’s being hunted down by the said mysterious woman.

So it’s directed by Joe Wright, and for someone who’s made a name for himself with stuff like Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, this isn’t exactly familiar territory for the guy. As far as I know, Jane Austen wasn’t exactly what you’d call an adrenaline junkie, but more power to Wright for pulling a full 180 and totally rocking the most important parts that a whole lot of seasoned action directors can’t even get right. I mean, you watch something like Atonement and it comes off clear as day that this guy knows what the hell he’s doing behind the camera, and in that regard, this genre actually seems like a natural progression even if the final product left me pretty underwhelmed. But I’ll get to the Debbie Downer stuff later, ’cause let me tell you about these action scenes…

Alright, there’s a handful of ’em here, and for the most part they didn’t really do a whole lot for me, but there were two parts in particular that felt like a kick to the brain in the best way possible. The first is when Hanna busts out of her holding cell and leaves a sea of gun-toting goons in her wake, the second is this stunning continuous shot that starts with Hanna’s dad getting off a bus and ends with him as the only dude left standing in a six-on-one train station death match. The first feels like a music video mixed with a rave mixed with the final showdown from The Professional, and the second is just freaking’ gorgeous with all its invisible cuts and baited progression from perfectly normal to life-or-death. When those scenes were happening, this movie was floating a verdict of 8 or 9 and Joe Wright deserves a high-thirty of the highest order for putting those together as well as he did.

And the original soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers really is something else. Never really listened to them before, but this is one of those things that couldn’t have been more fitting and will make you want to start getting familiar.

But as unforgettable and awesome as those two scenes were, the rest of the movie makes them seem like a blip on the radar, and I guess that’s because the writing is so damn disappointing, or at least disappointing in comparison. Take, for instance, the huge chunk of time that Hanna spends with the family on their vacation where she tries to fit in even though it’s pretty obvious to everyone around her that something’s up with this girl. It’s one of those detours that I’ve seen before and hoped wouldn’t be coming, but alas, it came, completely sapped the pacing, overstayed its welcome, and added nothing to story nor made me care any more about Hanna in the least. And by the time all the plot twists and reveals finally come around, they don’t come as a surprise because of the blatant hints along the way that let you see everyone’s hands way before the cards are laid out on the table. I don’t know, the structure here is just bizarre and continually shoots itself in the foot for reasons I don’t understand.

As if that wasn’t enough, the ending is ultimately decided by the kind of shoes that Cate Blanchett decided to wear and how they probably weren’t the most practical choice when setting out on a global manhunt. Just a completely disappointing, copout way to wrap things up and avoid a golden opportunity to give us some “wow” factor.

But the cast is solid and I can’t fault them for any of this shit. Saorsie Ronan runs train and pulls it off with ease as Hanna; Cate Blanchett plays a good heartless bitch as Hanna’s target, Marissa (even if I have no idea how she manages to stick around so long against the likes of Hanna and her dad); and Erica Bana ain’t bad as Hanna’s dad, either. Man, it’s nice to see Bana in a good movie for once. Hasn’t been in a good movie since Chopper. What’s up with that?

Anyway, it’s rare that I find myself knocking a movie because I wish it had more action and less talking, but when the action is this good and the talking is this blah, Hanna would have been so much better if everyone had just shut the hell up and let the fists/Chemical Brothers do the talking. It’s still enjoyable, but it’s your textbook case of style over substance and altogether a pretty forgettable experience with the exception of those two stellar throwdowns and the fluidity that Wright creates amidst chaos. But like I said, props to the guy for trying something new even if he was already knocking ’em dead with British period pieces. Would love to see him take another stab at it if he can find a script that’s as good as his camerawork.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2011 3:37 am

    I can’t decide if Cate Blanchett here is really, really bad or really, really good.

    • May 2, 2011 8:10 am

      Thought she was somewhere in the middle here, but usually she’s really, really good.

  2. April 26, 2011 3:50 am

    Bana “hasn’t been in a good movie since Chopper.”?? Really? I’d have thought films such as Star Trek, Black Hawk Down, Munich, and Love The Beast would easily be classed as “good” films there Aiden!

    Great review, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing this one on BluRay in a few months….

    • May 2, 2011 8:13 am

      Dammit, I knew I should have rephrased that Bana line. Star Trek was effing great, still haven’t seen Black Hawk Down for some reason, wasn’t crazy about Munic, and haven’t seen Love the Beast. BUT, I think it’s a safe bet to say that still hasn’t been as good in a movie or given a better performance than he did in Chopper.

      And, thanks! Yeah, you can save this one for BluRay, just crank the volume up to 11.

  3. April 27, 2011 2:27 am

    I am disappoint.

    I could live with you not digging this as much as me, but to give Scream 4 two clicks higher? No way!

    Our big hurdle seems to be Hanna’s time spent with the Brits. I absolutely loved that part of the movie – and those characters – as they were something I’d argue we really don’t see much of, at least not in films like this where the protagonists are too busy investigating and/or killing and/or running (and there’s a lot of running here, too) to kick back and get to know a handful of characters. Or maybe I just wanted to be in that bus with that family. Either way, Williams and Flemyng were an awesome shot of…I don’t know…grace? Internationalism? Hippie cool? I dug the hell out of them and their daughter.

    And yea…the soundtrack is the shit.

    • May 2, 2011 8:17 am

      Sweet sassy molassy. Just had a better time with Scream 4, what can I say? Totally different movies, homey. Chalk and cheese.

      And as for the family, that connection just wasn’t there for me. Couldn’t have cared less about them, couldn’t wait for Hanna to be rid of ’em, they were just a constant reminder of all the time they were taking away from Hanna kicking ass. Very disappoint.

      But at least we’ll always have the soundtrack.

  4. April 27, 2011 11:44 pm

    Yeah, I gotta say I enjoyed the mismatched “everything and the kitchen sink” mentality here. Wright was often off his rocker…but I think overall the film worked wonderfully as a visually audacious black comedy. And the acting all around was superb.

    • May 2, 2011 8:20 am

      Man, I don’t know. I’m having a lot of time finding common ground with folks on this one, seems like everyone’s walking away with something different that they loved or loathed. I guess with the combo of The Chemical Brothers and that unreal scene where Hanna breaks out of her holding cell, I was hoping that the whole thing would be that awesome, so when the down time hit and kept on hitting, it was kind of a letdown. But, yeah, the acting was solid and will def check out your review.

  5. Jimmy Jay permalink
    August 22, 2011 12:19 am

    One of the worst movies I have seen this year.

    its just plain boring..

    • August 26, 2011 4:37 pm

      Thought the scene where she breaks out of the holding cell was awesome, but aside from that, I know what you mean.

  6. fo0ky permalink
    August 31, 2011 10:51 am

    It’s like one of those low budget ‘Sharktopus’ movies. I couldn’t decide if the acting was being intentionally stylised or not.. turns out it was just dreadful. Far too much waffle.. faar too much. it was a bit like a weird fan edit of what was originally a great film.

    • September 2, 2011 9:19 am

      Haha. Never quite made the Sharktopus connection, but I agree, too much waffle going on here. Had some seriously awesome moments, but really didn’t work as well as it could have. Damn shame.

  7. October 30, 2011 8:10 pm

    hey, bana was in “funny people’! and that was a great film!

    didn’t like him much here…

    • October 31, 2011 10:01 am

      I’ll give you that Bana was good in it, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on how great Funny People was.

      • November 1, 2011 2:27 pm

        I know. Many people don’t like it. Me and my best friend watch it like at least once a month. We love it. Soon, we can speak ALL THE LINES with the actors 😉

      • November 1, 2011 2:31 pm

        Haha. Very, very impressed.

  8. November 1, 2011 2:39 pm

    Shut up! 🙂


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