Hanna is brought to us by Joe Wright, best known for bringing two literary classics, Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, to the big screen. However, Hanna is a welcome departure from the airs and graces of his previous work; depicting, as it does, a teen assassin played by Saoirse Ronan.
Hanna, the assassin in question, has spent her whole life isolated from the outside world. Her father (Eric Bana) has spent the past thirteen years training her to hunt, shoot, fight and kill for herself. Finally the day has arrived for her to venture into the real world. Her mission? To assassinate Marissa Wiegler, a corrupt CIA agent played by Cate Blanchett.
The film manages to combine this spy thriller element with Hanna’s fish-out-of-water-coming-of-age arc. As Hanna globe trots from Morocco to Spain to Germany, she befriends a middle class English family whose daughter, Sophie, is the same age as Hanna.
The best element of the film for me was seeing both Sophie and Hanna attempting to grow up. Hanna, in coping with her new-found independence and discovery of so many things she never knew existed; and Sophie, in trying to develop her sense of self as she negotiates the thrills and turmoils of adolescence.
Sandwiched between all this is Hanna’s early training to be an assassin, her attempts to fulfil it, and her discovery of precisely why her father wants her to take out a belligerent CIA agent.
While, the spy thriller element was generally well handled; the action scenes in particular proving exciting and invigorating; it was the fusion of the two wildly different teenage girls that worked a lot better for me. Interestingly, Hanna probably discovers more in her adventures with Sophie, than she does when she finds out all about her family history later in the film.
It is a credit to the filmmakers that the movie feels fresh, original, and creative through out. From the music to the action sequences, it is a film prepared to take a few risks, and these mostly paid off.
If there’s to be any criticism, it’s that the ending to the film seems to lose the creative elements the story has worked so hard to introduce. The places we are taken in the final third of the film are roads well travelled, and this means Hanna finished with a whimper, rather than a bang.
Despite this, there’s plenty to recommend about Joe Wright’s latest. It’s a film much like its titular character: surprising, intelligent, and ultimately very likeable.