HANNA: Saoirse Ronan underutilized

Her ex-CIA father Erik [Eric Bana] has trained Hanna [Saoirse Ronan] to be an assassin. Hanna’s fierce, independent and brave but struggles to understand empathy, beauty, culture and interpersonal relationships. She’s book-learned in that isolated home-schooling manner for the entirety of her 16 years. She hunts moose with bow and arrows, can spar with swords and knives and get in and out of nearly any building with relative ease. Living near the Arctic circle grows claustrophobic and she’s ready for her father’s mission of revenge. Hanna flips a switch and awaits her capture by the CIA. Her rogue father’s gone and Hanna quickly escapes custody, leaving numerous bodies in her wake. HANNA serves as a Brother’s Grimm fairytale where the wicked are after this sweet, secretive young woman. The one person who refuses to let her go is Erik’s former handler Marissa [a comic book character villain played Cate Blanchett].

Infused with a heart-pounding soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers, HANNA tries to emulate Run Lola Run and fails. It lacks heart. Hanna’s supposed to rendezvous in Berlin with her father. The purpose isn’t really made clear except perhaps to draw out those CIA agents and destroy them so that father and daughter can pursue a somewhat normal existence. There’s certain mysteries surrounding Hanna — that aren’t made clear until the end and not in a mysterious denouement. The audience only understands there’s something unusual about Hanna and her relationship to Marissa.

Saoirse Ronan is brilliant as this young, gifted, focused machine. Unfortunately, director Joe Wright [Pride and Prejudice, Atonement] prolongs the hidden meaning too much and cannot decide what kind of film to make. Focusing on Ronan’s inherent talent seems the best bet. The few more personal scenes with her are a delight to watch. There’s Hanna’s emergence into society. at one point, in Morocco, she befriends a worldly teenager [Jessica Barden] who really makes Hanna look all the much more naïve. It’s refreshing and I wanted more of that and less of the creepy fairy tale/ edge-of-seat thriller. HANNA falls flat.

Grade: B

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