Hanna (review)

Saoirse Ronan in Hanna

A little girl — well, she’s verging on being a young lady, now, isn’t she? — lives in the snowy woods with her father, wearing furs and learning how to stealthily hunt stags and gettin’ raised up to be a lethal weapon. Then the Bad Men come to take her to the Witchy Lady who is responsible for her being a genetically engineered perfect assassin, and she is on the run, alone… Director Joe Wright (The Soloist) makes sure his story looks great — and sounds great, with its aurally spectacular Chemical Brothers score — but it’s an empty experience, a Frankenstein story with no heft, indeed with little apparent awareness of the classic tale it is evolved from. Or else screenwriters Seth Lochhead and David Farr chose to deliberate dispense with subtlety and questions of morality as too bothersome when there’s some ass-kicking to be done. The novelty of a teenage girl doing the ass-kicking is not in itself enough to distinguish Hanna significantly from the great morass of flicks in which the ass-kicker is male, and it’s not particularly feminist, either, except in the sense that the flick grants meaty roles to female actors. Making at all passably watchable, if then instantly forgettable, is the top-notch cast: Eric Bana (The Time Traveler’s Wife) as Hanna’s father, Cate Blanchett (Robin Hood) as the stone-cold CIA witch; the unknown (though not for long) Jessica Barden as the teen Hanna befriends (however preposterously) on her travels. Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) is of course fantastic as the 16-year-old proto warrior, but she and her character deserve better than the nonsensical mess they get. Hanna — who has lived in a shack in the arctic woods her whole life — has trouble with electrical switches and TVs but jumps right into Googling? Hanna wants a cute boy to kiss her but then attacks him when he gives it a shot? Hanna may be wrapped up all pretty, but its visual elegance is nothing more than a shiny bow on a box bare of fascinating or unique goodies.

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