Hanna is a movie of perplexing interest. It’s a technically sound film from an accomplished director who has, with the exception of The Soloist, put out a string of excellent movies. From an aesthetic viewpoint, Hanna suffers from only minor problems, but the whole of the experience is empty and meaningless. It’s nothing but an exercise in stylish action, which would be fine if the action scenes were anything worth talking about. Hanna is as lively as a dull movie can get, which makes it some sort of anomaly, but if that’s the biggest praise it can gather, does that really make it worth seeing?
Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna. For as long as she can remember, she has lived out in the middle of the woods with her father, Erik, played by Eric Bana. He used to be a CIA agent, but went rogue many years ago and has been in hiding ever since. For some reason, he has a switch in their cabin that, when flipped, will give away their position to Marissa, played by Cate Blanchett, a former colleague of his who intends on wiping them out for mysterious purposes. Erik has spent years training Hanna to survive in preparation for this day. After the opening scenes, the flip is switched and the chase is on.
There is one shining light in Hanna and that is Saoirse Ronan, who makes up for her tepid performance in The Lovely Bones by capturing the type of ass kicking, female empowerment mojo the girls in Sucker Punch muffed up with over-sexualization. She’s a tiny little thing, but she holds her own against the bulky men fighting her, and believably so. The reasoning behind her skills is kind of silly, but it’s a silliness you have to accept as essential to the story.
Alas, much of what else that happens is anything but essential. The film’s biggest downfall that it fails to build momentum because it wastes its time in needless narrative tangents, like when Hanna goes out on a date with a boy she just met. Its intention is to show how inexperienced she is with the outside world, which includes social interaction, but it has zero relevance to the broader story. It's a scene that can only be described as random and unnecessary, especially when compared to other, better scenes that more clearly show how ignorant she is to the world, like when she discovers electricity for the first time.
When it does get to the action, it becomes a repetitive slog through meandering chase scenes where nonsensical actions become the order of the day. Hanna may have the combat skills of a martial arts expert, but most of the time she opts to simply run away, which doesn’t make for a particularly thrilling experience. Presumably to make up for its lack of variety, director Joe Wright employs camera trickery on a few occasions that have no impact or metaphorical purpose (one of its few aesthetic stumbles, along with its occasional use of shaky cam that feels so out of place as to be unpleasantly jarring). The final nail in the coffin comes from the musical score, which is so piercingly loud and pounding that it sometimes drowns out the dialogue in the more intense scenes. I would say this is an unforgivable error, but in a story with no point, it’s merely an annoyance.
Hanna is a film that is fun to rip apart with friends. It has so many minor errors it almost becomes laughable. For instance, very early in the movie a plane flies low over Hanna and Erik’s hidden cabin in the woods, which is something Hanna has never experienced. I guess the airlines had just been shut down for the last 14 years (and don’t even get me started on why they flipped that switch). From what I could tell walking out of the theater after my viewing, Hanna will be a popular movie, but don’t be fooled by word of mouth. “Popular” doesn’t mean “good.”
Hanna receives 2/5