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Movie Review: Hanna

Hanna, like a bad graphic novel, is beautiful to look at, but has little sense of its characters, its themes or what kinds of plot elements keep an audience interested. The story, such as it is, involves a little girl, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan), raised to be a ruthless killer by her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana) and chased by a CIA-agent named Wiegler (Cate Blanchett, with a silky-soft Southern American accent). What “revelations” the story has are not very revelatory, and will be guessed by audiences even before flashbacks explain them in detail.

We know Joe Wright (Atonement) is a talented director and the cast — especially the main trio of Ronan, Bana and Blanchett — are all superb, so I suppose that leaves the screenwriters, Seth Lochhead and David Farr, working from a story by Lochhead, to blame. I hate to criticize Hollywood screenwriters without reading the draft of the script that got a movie greenlit, because there are lots of layers of executives and creative people that can screw it up before it gets shot. I imagine that at one time the Grimm’s fairy tale imagery all made sense, and that the movie had more character moments, like Hanna bonding with a British hippy family, and less senseless chases set to pulsing Chemical Brothers music.

Maybe the original draft explained how Hanna got from the Arctic circle to Morocco, whether the way her DNA was manipulated made her autistic, as one sequence where she is overwhelmed by stimuli seems to suggest, or a pretty normal, empathetic teen girl, as other sequences indicate. Maybe in the original draft she did clever things that bore out the motto she lives by: “Adapt or die.” (The girl in Kick Ass kicks way more ass.) But in a world where the CIA has a super-advanced lab underground in Morocco and randomly tests the DNA of a teen girl, held only as a witness, before they even do a debrief interview, basic logic and realism doesn’t seem to be holding back the filmmakers. Why couldn’t this world have some awesome comic-book-style action? Why couldn’t Hanna do more incredible things?

Hanna is really not a bad movie. It’s just one that bored me. I never really connected with Hanna, the central character, and her Bourne-like journey, being chased by forces for reasons that her father ought to have explained to her already.

2 Comments

  1. I will start by stating that I believe that there are some valid points in this review, but, I believe that you have stated your opinion as fact, and I do not believe it is.It is an extremely negative review in which I dont think this film deserves.
    I watched this film and enjoyed it.

    • @Jessica,

      I actually try to remove the “I believe” and “my opinion is” kinds of phrases since I was taught that readers always assume it is opinion anyway. I am sorry if the review comes across as arrogant, which was not my intent. As a filmmaker, I try to watch films with a hyper-critical eye. I am genuinely interested to hear what features you enjoyed about the film. I’m sure I’ve overlooked many and it is always helpful to get a different perspective.

      Best,
      John

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