Review by Nathan Samdahl (B)
Hanna, the newest film from Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) demonstrates again why he is one of the best young directors working today. Wright's proven skills with character, story and captivating, often sweeping visuals help for a smooth transition into the action/thriller genre.
Wisely, Joe Wright and the rest of the filmmakers quickly distinguish Hanna from films such as The Bourne movies by giving the story a more cerebral fairytale vibe. Many of the sets, particularly when Hanna is on the run, are both grounded, but also exist in a surreal realm (such as the amusement park location where Hanna hides for part of the film).
It is this whimsical slant that makes it difficult to closely compare Hanna to other films, which in this case is definitely a plus.
Wright, like Paul Thomas Anderson, is a master with the camera, particularly in his use of long tracking shots. Like in Atonement, where one long shot surveys the entire beach amusement park location, Wright tracks Eric Bana as he walks through a train station, down into a subway and fights off four goons all in one uninterrupted shot. Incredible.
The actors here are all outstanding as well. Eric Bana (Erik), having ventured into similar roles before, dons a new accent and is convincing as the rogue agent who has been living with his daughter off the grid for 15 years. His daughter, played by one of my favorites, Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones) gives another knockout performance, even upstaging Bana and at times Blanchett. Cate delivers as always, transforming herself once again into a wholly unique character.
Despite all its positives, the movie is not perfect. Some of the plot devices, particularly the Boys from Brazil-like reveal at the end, felt a bit simplistic and contrived. Perhaps the film may have operated better without needing to boil down the story so heavily.
On the flip side, more elaboration was needed as to why Erik and Hanna decide to come out of hiding in such a big way. What's their end goal, other than to provide a lot of great action scenes? Complex reasons would have been fine, but as is, I struggled with why these characters, despite being trained to kill, would want to put themselves in such a hairy situation.
Overall, Hanna is a lot of fun, is beautiful to watch and provides a very different action movie experience. The film does not come together flawlessly like Atonement did, but the idea to create a young, gritty female action character is definitely bold and, given the expert casting, pays off handsomely. I would recommend a trip to the theater for this one, if only to watch that amazing tracking shot.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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