Hanna is the kind of movie that should be making one-hundred million dollars. It's original; it's intense; it has a great hero, fun villains, and some amazing action sequences staged in creative locations. It's gorgeously shot, and it also features a brilliant score by the Chemical Brothers, who use techno beats and lullabies that keep things fast-paced, even in the quieter moments. What more could you ask for?
Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna, a sixteen year-old girl brought up in the woods by an ex-CIA agent training her to be hunted by the agency once they find out that she is alive. Ronan plays Hanna with a perfect blend of innocence and killer-instinct as she ventures out into the world for the first time. Cate Blanchett is cold and calculating as the CIA agent hunting down Hanna's father, speaking with an odd Southern accent that comes off particularly menacing when she tries to sound motherly to Hanna. She's a joy to watch, especially when she hires an effeminate, blonde-haired, German hit-man (Tom Hollander) to track down Hanna. Never has anyone made a track suit and nurse's footwear seem quite as threatening as Hollander does here. I know I'm watching a great action film when I am grateful for every scene in which the villains' lives is spared, and watching Hanna, I was almost rooting for them. I would have been happy to watch them chase after Hanna for hours, especially when these chases are taking place in underground CIA bunkers, through mazes of stacked freight containers on a shipping dock, or through the strange attractions of an abandoned amusement park. They are an absolute blast to watch.
Hanna is part fairy tale, part revenge thriller, part drama, part coming-of-age road movie, and it mixes all of elements together into an engaging story in which the action almost feels like a by-product, rater than a story that feels like filler in between fist fights and car chases. That said, the action itself is handled expertly; director Joe Wright lets us see what is happening, rather than make a mess of his images with slow motion, fast cuts, or CGI effects, but somehow it comes off more stylized than most movies that use such contrivances... Watch for the four-minute, unbroken shot of Eric Bana walking out of a bus station and into an empty subway station where he takes on a group of agents that have been following him. It, like the rest of the film, is marvelous.