by Bret Dorman
Movie level anticipation and satisfaction can fall into one of four categories.
1) I’m really looking forward to it and it does not disappoint (The Matrix)
2) I’m really looking forward to it and it does disappoint (The Wolfman)
3) I’m not really looking forward to it and it does disappoint (Limitless)
4) I’m not really looking forward to it and it does not disappoint (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Let’s just say before I saw Hanna, it was nowhere on my radar of films I must see.
So what category does Hanna fall into? As I mentioned, Hanna was not on my list of movies I had to see. In fact, if I hadn’t decided to spend an entire day at the movies catching up I probably wouldn’t have seen it. And that would have sucked. Because so far I’ve seen it twice and plan to go at least once more while it is still in theaters.
Hanna blew me away. I was not expecting anything that I got and everything was just so refreshing from an action stand point. When I got home I immediately IMDB’d Director Joe Wright to see what other awesome movie he has done and much to my chagrin, he was the guy behind such period pieces as Pride And Prejudice (with Kiera Knightly) and Atonement. Both of which I was not big fans of.
But somehow in Hanna he manages to bring his own unique style of directing in full force. I’ve never seen action scenes shot like this. Its funny how big studious will bring on ‘artsy’ directors probably to bring a certain ‘flair’ to their movies but by the time they are done its just an average movie that looks like everyone else’s but has a few extra points with the indie crowd. Hanna is not like that. Hanna is a bona-fide art house action movie.
And while I was super impressed with the physicality of all three main stars (Ronan does particularly well with making it believable that she can take on full grown adults) what really elevates the action isn’t simply that the action is good, its that the characters all respond to the action. The characters in Hanna all react to these action scenes with great emotions and for being a standard spy story its actually quite personal. Very rarely will an action movie let its characters be affected by what’s actually happening. That’s what makes Hanna stand out.
I should also mention that Hanna is just a teen girl, who has been trained since birth to be the perfect assassin. Shut off from the rest of the world, Ronan plays Hanna more like a curious animal entering into the real world while still trying to be a teenage girl at the same time. Hanna’s story sort of detours in the middle where she goes on an ‘normal’ adventure with a new found friend before her past suddenly catches back up with her. Its a great break from the action and shows the human side of Hanna before she has to get back to what she does best, kicking ass.
I also like how adult the movie is without being rated ‘R’. The way the adults in the movie talk and discuss things is so sharp. While Hanna is forced out into an unknown world and we get to see her learn how to adapt to it, we also see scenes of Blanchett and Bana that adds a level of seriousness to the story.
Speaking of adding levels… The Chemical Brothers’ sound track is one of the most unique sound tracks for an action movie to date. Where Tron: Legacy tried to take a techno duo and make a sound track of their music, which ultimately just sounded like Daft Punk Songs over Tron’s scenes, The Chemical Brothers’ music actually seems in sync with what is happening on screen. Between the sharp, fast, kinetic fighting, the characters strong reactions, AND the score… Hanna makes for one great action flick.
Lastly, the movie is filled with great little touches. Whether its the story being inspired by fairy tales (which also plays a big part later in a certain locale) or Tom Hollander’s creepy short super efficient and extra deadly psychopathic tracker/assassin, the movie takes every opportunity to throw in a little twist on the norm. If only more movies took that much time to care.
I normally would include a trailer here but if you haven’t seen the trailer don’t watch it. I would recommend going in as cold as possible. Makes the punches in the movie that much stronger…
In Conclusion, upon watching the ending to Hanna the first time I saw it, I felt a little cheated. Having seen it a second time I can understand how people might want *more* from the story but I just can’t stop thinking about how well the rest of this movie is crafted and how beautiful it looks. This will definitely become a ‘text book’ how-to-make-an-engaging-action-movie movie.
Final Grade: A