Movie Review: Hanna

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Ethereal and lethal. I couldn’t imagine anyone else being “Hanna” than Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones).

Hanna is not your average 16-year old girl. She’s lived in isolation since birth, raised in the wilderness of Northern Finland solely by her former CIA-operative father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana). She’s trained to stalk, hunt, target, fight and survive in harsh conditions.

Don’t mistake her pale skin, blue eyes and long blond locks as an angel. Behind those innocent eyes is an assassin unlike any other. Although Hanna isn’t an “assassin” in a true sense; she’s an extreme survivalist taught to defend herself by any means.

When Hanna feels ready to move on to the next step in her life, she and her father part ways, with the promise of meeting up again in Berlin. Immediately she’s tracked down and held in a CIA facility by a ruthless agent, “Marissa” (Cate Blanchett). Hanna breaks out, meets and strikes a quirky friendship with another teen, “Sophie” (Jessica Barden) and her RV-traveling family.

Hanna is a visually and audibly powerful. The transition scenes from a wintry forest to a sterile cell to an arid desert are artistically striking. When Hanna first gets out in the real world and experiences the sights and sounds of modern conveniences, I could feel her sensory overload. Flickering light. Barking TV. Shrieking kettle. Humming fan. Ringing telephone.

Hanna’s escapes are inventively shot. From the initial holding cell where she tricks her interrogator, faces off with an army of men, runs, leaps and crawls through a maze of tunnels, to the narrow alleys at the junkyard where she outfights and outruns her pursuers, to a whimsical funhouse where she stealthily flees from the clutch of the “wicked witch” of an agent.

Somehow there’s nary a shred of incredulity with Hanna. With her lean strength, dexterity and velocity, Ronan is effortlessly believable – with a gun, knife or arrow. There’s a ferocity behind her chilly exterior, especially when she learns the truth about herself during her confrontation with Erik.

Hanna is a character-centered, coming-of-age tale. There’s not much to be said about the supporting characters. Erik does have a cool combat scene in a clear, continuous shot, but there’s no consequential closure with him and you’re not going to understand Marissa’s motivation or mercilessness to kill.

Director Joe Wright’s (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) work on the action genre is eerily enthralling. There’s an art-house quality to it. The Chemical Brothers’ spectacular score is a techno beat that raises the scenes to an incredible level. Hanna is a pulse-pounding, lethal fairy-tale actioner.

Copyright (c) 2011. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She can be reached at Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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