Ever think about how terrifying a ceiling fan is? Probably not. You also probably didn’t grow up in the wintry forests of Finland where your rogue-secret agent father taught you how to be a cold-blooded, ruthless killing machine.
That’s where we find Hanna (Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan, Atonement), our young but dangerous heroine. Her father Erik (the reliable Eric Bana) trains her in thinking and acting like a soldier and it seems his little girl has grown up—and become ready for the real world. But the real world seems even more horrific than her not-so-cozy Finnish cottage. That’s because a woman is waiting for Hanna and her father: Marissa Wiegler (powerhouse performer Cate Blanchett, rocking an unnerving Southern accent). Why Marissa is after Hanna and why Hanna is so darn talented in the killing department is the whole mystery behind Hanna.
Hanna is directed by Joe Wright (the lovely 2005 Pride & Prejudice, Atonement). Those two films had an incredibly imaginative look to them, which brought new life to such old-school themes. He does the same in Hanna; what could have been a standard action-thriller is actually a thumping, heart-stopping, techno-infused joyride. This movie is all style and it seeks to provide a visceral experience for its audience.
If the movie has one flaw, it’s that the plot is slightly underwhelming. But I mean that in a purely superficial way. On a grand scale, the themes, symbolism and metaphors within the film are resonant and quite fascinating. Hanna is structured like a Grimm’s fairy tale with references to Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and especially Snow White.
At the heart of the movie, it’s just a coming-of-age story about a young woman dealing with extraordinary circumstances in an extraordinary setting.
The twist is that her extraordinary setting is our everyday world. Wright and his screenwriters David Farr and Scott Lochhead show us many scenes in which normal life is made-strange as we see the world through Hanna’s eyes (hence the terrifying ceiling fan). It’s exhilarating and frightening and weirdly shocking.
When it comes to the actors, you couldn’t ask for a better cast. Hunky Eric Bana (that is what my movie companion called him) is awesome like he always is. Blanchett is spectacularly terrifying in that Wicked Stepmother way. It’s quite refreshing to see her play a villain in a movie that isn’t a joke (aka Indiana Jones 4). Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams and teen actress Jessica Bardem are also great in their supporting roles.
But Ronan is astonishing—and I mean, astonishing—in the title role. Her studied, determined performance is remarkable even now when there are a few talented young actresses around (Chloe Moretz, Mia Wasikowska). Ronan’s Hanna is as confused as she is ruthless, as vulnerable as she is dangerous.
Go see Hanna. It will be one roller-coaster movie you won’t want to miss.
Danielle Panabaker's Top Pop Picks
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