Kids these days are so lazy. They can barely make mac and cheese for themselves, let alone stalk and kill a caribou. And when you sneak up on these teens from behind, you know, to silently snap their neck or at least take them prisoner, they are so distracted by computer games they don’t sense you coming, so fat and lazy that if they do get away, they can’t run fast enough with their pants hanging off of their arses to avoid the spear you then chuck into their retreating back.
Am I right?
Not Hanna. This fur-clad mini-Galadriel is all about hunting her own food, training in brutal martial arts and living in a quasi-Hobbit hut somewhere very distant and snowy, where she is homeschooled by her father. Subjects include science, survival, remembering fake indentities and a brief mention of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
“Hanna” serves as a sort of fairy tale itself. There are a lot of dead mothers in children’s stories, and our Hanna (played by Oscar-nominated for “Brooklyn” Saoirse Ronan) – is in that unfortunate group. There is overcoming an evil witch. Hanna, no last name, is being raised off the grid to kick some witch ass, that of the mysterious Marissa Wiegler, played and then overplayed by (speaking of Galadriel) Cate Blanchett. By the way, a shiny dime for anyone who can place Blanchett’s American accent. Pennsatucky?
Why does Wiegler want Hanna? Why is Hanna being trained to kill? Where is Hanna’s caveman father (Eric Bana) going in a suit? And who did the costumes for Wiegler’s creepy German hired gun, Isaacs, portrayed by Tom Hollander in a great departure from his usual middle class and clerical Englishman roles.
So many questions
Five minutes in, the movie will make you want to know the answers. Though the intriguing plot becomes a little convoluted, this movie is elevated by from the usual cat-and-mouse, person on the run thrillers by – initally – its stylish design. The color palettes change for each location and there is a wonderful sequence involving an escape through concrete tunnels that is lit and shot beautifully.
While directed by Joe Wright (who brought out the childlike evil in Ronan in the wonderful “Atonement”) full marks go to Alwin H. Küchler and Sarah Greenwood for the cinematography and production design, respectively. Wright brings us action – a ton of it, mostly choreographed to beats by The Chemical Brothers – and a futuristic, paranoid vibe to Hanna’s travels.
The quiet, surreal beginning gives way to a somewhat preposterous interlude involving Hanna, who we assume has seen no one but her father lo these many years, attempting to be a normal teen and connect with the least threatening Spanish dreamboat ever to ride a scooter. The trouble there is, Dad forgot to teach Hanna about boys, or social interaction, or possibly even love. She is a little robot, a killing machine, and at times hard to cheer for. The only reason to care what happens to her is that gorgeous, luminous, otherworldly face of Saoirse Ronan. See this, then see “Brooklyn”, and know you’re watching the ascendance of an actress who will be doing great work for a long time to come.
7/10 on the Beastly Scale
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A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.