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Hanna (Ronan) is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a soldier; these come from being raised by her father (Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (Blanchett). As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity. Written by
Words are spoken during the credits. At the end of the first song: "Music: A combination of sounds with a view to beauty of form and expression of emotion". And after the end credits: "Schlaf weiter" (sleep on). See more »
Smart and mesmerizing with an incredible soundtrack
Hanna felt like The Little Engine That Could right from the start. When the trailer first started being shown in theaters, it looked to have potential while featuring a solid cast. But it felt like a smaller film that would leave a big impact once you finally got around to seeing it. There were a few things working against the film. I'm fairly certain that the only film of Joe Wright's that I've actually had the opportunity to sit down and watch is The Soloist. Despite being enjoyable, its weak online reputation along with movie critics less than stellar ratings and reviews imply that the film missed its mark. Speaking of missing its mark, Saoirse Ronan was also in Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones which couldn't really decide what type of film to be and was more than a little disappointing overall. Luckily, Hanna doesn't suffer that same fate and we're actually given a film that is much stronger than it lets on.
Hanna really utilizes the two senses you use most while watching a movie to their maximum potential. The beautiful cinematography is done in a way that let's you see things in a completely different light. There's a fairly wide contrast in scenery in the film; everything from the wooded forest to the dry, desolate desert to big cities to playgrounds and parks. Whether it's a cabin being covered by snow out in the middle of a Finnish forest, an expanding look at the rocky and seemingly endless desert floor, or just admiring the several sunsets utilized throughout the film to bridge one scene to the next, the camera work in Hanna is something that should definitely catch your eye.
While we're on the subject of camera work, there are quite a few intriguing perspective techniques used in Hanna as well. Some of the most noteworthy scenes in the film are one-take or long-take sequences meaning no cutaways or chances to do it again without starting from the beginning. The best example is a scene involving Erik (Eric Bana) where he gets off a bus and is being tailed by four agents sent by Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett). The way that scene is filmed along with its climax is just spectacular. That same technique is used several times throughout the film and seems to make something simple like a chase through a junkyard way more entertaining than if it was filmed differently. Another interesting shot is when Erik finds Marissa in her hotel room. A battle of bullets breaks out as we look through one of the bullet holes to see Erik kicking the door in. Good stuff right there, boys and girls. Good stuff indeed.
The other sense that's capitalized upon is what the film allows you to hear. Hanna features an original score by The Chemical Brothers and it doesn't disappoint. I'm not exactly a big fan of house music, techno, trip hop, or any music genre of that nature, but there's something about this soundtrack that adds something a different genre or artist probably wouldn't have been able to capture if they had been fortunate enough to do this soundtrack instead. Those beats and that electronic sound may not sound like they should be a part of a film like this, but it's an essential part of the film that makes the chase scenes involving Hanna more suspenseful and it's practically impossible to imagine Tom Hollander's "sandman" scene without that creepy bell-heavy lullaby. Truth be told, the Hanna soundtrack is every bit as good as the TRON: Legacy soundtrack.
The action thriller has a fantastic way of coming full circle. The beginning and end come together in a way that feels similar, but is done in a satisfying way that makes the storyline feel complete. Hanna actually has a little bit of humor hidden in its depths, as well. Most of it involves Sophie (Jessica Barden) in some capacity. The "three bullets" scene is the first that comes to mind. The entire theater seemed to be in an uproar over that one.
The one thing that didn't seem to click with Hanna was the editing. It's like the editor became incredibly overzealous being in possession of a soundtrack by the Chemical Brothers and certain scenes seemed more complicated than necessary. Hanna's (Saoirse Ronan) escape from holding was the scene that brought this theory to light. Flashing lights and scenes of Hanna running episode down along with multiple shots of her face in one frame just made the entire scene feel like an epileptic's nightmare.
Hanna is a fantastically paced action thriller that features strong performances from a powerful cast and a storyline that's rounded out in the best of ways. Eric Bana nearly steals the show at times while you may want to kill Cate Blanchett at other times for her Texan accent alone, but Saoirse Ronan puts in a performance that may be the best of her career thus far. Top it off with a spectacular soundtrack from The Chemical Brothers, and Hanna becomes one of the first must-see films of the year that is both intelligent and features slap-the-taste-out-of-your-mouth action.
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