With Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Vicky Krieps, Cate Blanchett, John MacMillan. Directed by Joe Wright. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language. 105 minutes.
For those looking for style over substance, HANNA delivers a smart, slick package that keeps the adrenaline pumping for its 105-minute running time. It doesn’t have much to say and it doesn’t leave you with much to think about. However, when the house lights come up, you may notice you haven’t touched your popcorn.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a 16-year-old girl who is living with her father (Eric Bana) in the forests of Finland. She is strong and fast and ruthless, trained by her father, an ex-CIA agent, to fend for herself. What slowly emerges is that she is the loose end of a project to create the perfect assassin. Now, project head Marissa (Cate Blanchett) wants regain control, eliminating the father – and anyone else who gets in her way – and either controlling or killing Hanna.
The film consists of father and daughter splitting up to elude their pursuers, and the unsocialized teen having to deal with normal people. When she interacts with another teenage girl (Vicky Krieps) the differences between them are striking, even as the “normal” one is a piece of work herself. Meanwhile,
Marissa has brought on a team of ruthless killers led by Lewis (John McMillan), who let nothing stop them from locating Hanna.
Director Joe Wright has looked for a real change of pace here. Previously, he’s been known for character-driven dramas like “Pride And Prejudice,” “Atonement” and “The Soloist.” Here, there’s little of the subtlety or depth we’ve seen in his earlier films. It’s all on the surface as we careen from location to location, hoping that Hanna can stay one step ahead of her pursuers.
One wonders if Wright is trying to show himself to be “commercial.” He allows himself one bravura shot where, in a single take, Bana is pursued by and then battles a team of killers. The camera tracks and swirls as it follows him and then observes him taking on several assassins at once and it’s a technically brilliant move. However, it’s like noting that some cotton candy is the most wonderful you’ve ever eaten, as it’s still only cotton candy.
The acting honors go to Ronan and Blanchett, with Bana and the rest of the cast essentially providing support for their cat-and-mouse game. Ronan is a tough teen who is wise beyond her years. Blanchett brings a great deal of substance to the role of the heavy, making us think there’s a lot more to her character than has actually been written. She’s driven and determined. Beyond that, there’s little more to say.
“Hanna” is eye candy, providing plenty of thrills and slick visuals, and holding our attention throughout. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t have much to offer beyond that, which makes this a solid action-packed entertainment, but nothing more.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being Jar Jar Binks Must Die… And Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.