Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The idea of Joe Wright, he of the prestige picture, making a movie about a killer teen cutting a vast and bloody swatch through Europe had just the right ring of unreality to make it sound seriously appealing. Like the when the school’s top student shows up to class one day with green hair, a ring in her nose, wearing a Cramps T-shirt along with a nervous look in her eye. I mean seriously, the guy who gave us Pride And Prejudice was going to do Hit Girl? With a score by The Chemical Brothers? Sign me up.

Predictably if disappointedly, Wright extracts (almost) every ounce of cheap thrills from the film’s lurid premise. Making an archly, would be Kubrickian abstract thriller, that is rarely unselfconscious enough to have any damn fun. Nor does it ever really achieve the gravitas it strives for. Stuck instead in a kind of limbo. Wright strikes on a fairy tale motif for the film (in one of its best touches Blanchett is always introduced teeth first as in “My what big ___ you have") which is fine, but never really resolves itself into anything more then a strange stylistic tic. The makings are here for something great, but they never come together.

Which doesn’t mean we should turn up our noses at those makings. The movie is worthwhile if only for the strength of its three principles. In a world of homogenized stock types, Hanna, her father and the woman who hunts them both are three individuals whose collision makes for good watching despite itself.

This as mentioned is mostly due to Saoirise Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett. The waif like Ronan both genuinely alien and convincingly lethal, Eric Bana being all Eric Banaey, and Blanchett who alone seems to understand the Grimm tone the movie is going for. Perhaps more so than Wright himself.

Wright himself has a surprisingly graceful eye for action, as well as mood. The few times that Hanna truly shed’s its confused nature and really gets us inside her head, such as a sequence showing how much over stimulation a simple room offers her, Hanna reveals the better movie it could have been. Unfortunately this kind of confidence is the exception not the rule from Wright, who fills the film with edgy montages, an ill advised detour into spy-fi and other elements that weigh the film down. More than anything the narrative is hampered by a lack of effective villains (Blanchett notwithstanding). Wright does such a good job convincing us that his protagonist are ruthlessly efficient killing machines that the posse of stock Eurosleaze that she puts on their trail never anything remotely like a legitimate threat.

Ultimately I spent more time in Hanna thinking that I should be entertained, than I did actually feeling entertained. Hanna sadly ends up being considerably less than the sum of its parts.


William K Gerardi said...

Wright is one of the most lackluster directors working in Hollywood right now.

Budd said...

I was hoping for more, the trailer was really good. guess I will wait for red box.

Erich Kuersten said...

sad sad sad, who keeps putting these incompetent hacks at the helm of great concept, coolly cast possibly awesome films? First Sucker Punch, now this! SALT is beginning to seem more and more like a goddamned masterpiece.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ William: I wouldn't argue, though I do like Atonement.

@ Budd: A wise course of action.

@ Erich: Different cases. Whatever problems Sucker Punch had, Zack Snyder not knowing the movie he wanted to make was not one of them. This is too confused.

le0pard13 said...

As usual, a discerning look at this one, Bryce. I'm still curious to see this one (though now in some inexpensive matinee), primarily for the three leads. I heard there's a wonderful tracking/action scene in it that makes some harken back to his Dunkirk sequence in Atonement. Thanks for this.

Bryce Wilson said...

Well there's no doubt about it. Hanna's two big action scenes (which unfortunately doesn't include a lack luster finale) and Bana's big one, are both extremely well done.

Riot.EXE said...

Saw this for free a few days ago (I had a free pass from AMC) and yeah, you're mostly right. I enjoyed the movie, but not quite as much as I SHOULD have.