Once upon a time there was teenager named Hanna (Saoirse Ronan: The Way Back) who lived alone in the woods with her father Erik (Eric Bana: The Time Traveler’s Wife). They spend nights reading by the fire, living off the frigid land of Finland and training in the art of the kill.
Sweet little Hanna is a blond-haired, blue-eyed killing machine. Strong as a man, capable of using just about anything around her as a lethal weapon and boasting the endurance of a soldier, Hanna learned well from her former CIA father.
One night, as Hanna is sleeping next to the fire in their mattress- and electricity-free home, Daddy dear puts a gun to her head. After she successfully fends off his lethal attacks, they live happily ever after.
Just kidding! Erik decides she’s ready for her ultimate mission, to hunt and kill his CIA handler Marissa (Cate Blanchett: Robin Hood). When she’s done, Hanna is to send him word that the witch is dead and meet up in Berlin.
Sadly, though she’s the most lethal teenager since Carrie, Hanna never saw a picture of Marissa so she kills a decoy agent. A rookie mistake, but she is only 14.
Blissfully unaware that the witch is on her heels, Hanna travels to Berlin for her happily-ever-after with Dad. She’s a teen super-killer, but she’s unprepared for human interaction and modern technology. Along the way, Hanna’s sweet naiveté manages to charm a hippy Brit family, who help her travel from Morocco to Germany.
As Hanna travels, she learns what it means to be a teenager and make friends — while fending off the government-hired big bad wolves who torture everyone she meets.
Hanna is a deranged and thrilling fairytale that mixes a tender coming-of-age story with skillfully choreographed fights and kills. Director Joe Wright (The Soloist) borrows heavily from European films of the 1990s, with the Chemical Brothers’ throbbing techno soundtrack and varied camera angle shooting style paying direct tribute to Run Lola Run.
It’s an effective technique that turns what could be an absurd thriller into a suspenseful fantasy that uses artful metaphor as well as elaborate single-take fight sequences.
As a business-skirted, no-nonsense southern spook, Blanchett swans through the movie in deliciously evil style. At one point she walks out of a big bad wolf metaphor, licking her chops as she sizes up Hanna. It could be ridiculous, but it’s not.
Behind the stylized shooting is the cold, clear fact: Marissa will torture and kill anyone to achieve her goals.
But the real revelation in Hanna is star Ronan. Her delicate blond features and wide blue eyes make her serene and angelic, even when she’s kicking major grownup ass. Bana is given less to do as Hanna’s perpetually stoic father, but he takes his shirt off enough to make up for character flaws.
This female-centric coming-of-age tale leaves room for a sequel. Let’s hope it follows. Tiny butt-whooping Hanna is a far more compelling lead than Jason Bourne.