| The 16-year-old title character (Saoirse Ronan from “The Lovely Bones” and “Atonement”) with unruly blonde hair and penetrating blue eyes could have been a fairy-tale princess. Her looks are clearly deceiving because she has been trained by her ex-CIA father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana from “Munich,” “Star Trek” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife”), to be the perfect assassin.
Hanna is introduced in the opening scene hunting a reindeer with a bow and arrow in snowy Northern Finland. Hanna has been raised in isolation. Erik has home-schooled her with an encyclopedia and various fairy tales. She absorbs information like a sponge with a photographic memory. She speaks several languages fluently and has had extensive training in self-defense and weapons use. Her father has ingrained into her the motto “Adapt or Die.”
Hanna’s whole life has been devoted to preparing her for a revenge mission against the ruthless espionage agent Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett from “Robin Hood,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy). Hanna’s mother died 15 years ago from three bullets fired from Marissa’s gun.
Director Joe Wright (“The Soloist,” “Atonement” and “Pride & Prejudice”) brings art house sensibilities to this mainstream action adventure. He employs a European style of storytelling with very little dialogue and immerses the audience in an array of sights and sounds.
This pursuit thriller bears similarities to an episode of the television series “Alias.” It also brings to mind “Salt,” “Kill Bill,” “Run Lola Run” and “La Femme Nikita.”
We only get a few hints as to Hanna’s origins. She displays extraordinary strength and shows no fear or emotions of any kind. The perfectly executed and choreographed fight sequences convince us that Hanna can outrun, out jump, outfight and outwit any opponent.
This movie puts you under its spell with gripping suspense and won’t let go throughout the exciting 110-minute running time. You can’t help but form a bond with this captivating superheroine.
Wright shows a distinctive filmmaking style that blends long-tracking shots, extensive landscapes and zooming close-up fight sequences. A fantastic original musical score by the Chemical Brothers heightens the adrenaline rush.
Ronan is a future Hollywood star. She holds her own against the legendary Blanchett. Blanchett offers a perfect contrast to this wild child. Her appearance is immaculate with not a hair out of place. She wears stunning designer outfits right down to the high-priced shoes. Her character’s meticulousness includes an obsession with shining white teeth. She displays a convincing charm to get others to do her bidding, especially when she slips into a disarming Texas drawl.
Tom Hollander (“The Soloist,” “Valkyrie” and “Gosford Park”) makes his presence felt as Marissa’s murderous German henchman who will employ any type of unorthodox measure to eliminate a target.
The script from writers Seth Lochhead and David Farr (“MI-5”) made the revered Black List of best unproduced screenplays for both 2006 and 2009. The globetrotting premise is reflected in the location shoots in Finland, Morocco, Germany and England. The exciting hide-and-seek conclusion takes place at Wilhelm Grimm’s (of the famous Brothers Grimm) house in Berlin, which comes across as a creepy and decaying amusement park. The dialogue is partially in Arabic, German and French with English subtitles. This guilty pleasure is by far the coolest movie of the year with cross-generational appeal to fans of espionage thrillers.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"