Hanna (2011)

Thrillers need more techno beats.

Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a teenager raised and trained by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA operative, to become a highly skilled assassin. But when she’s sent on a deadly mission across Europe, Hanna takes to an English family and starts longing for a normal life. She must first solve the puzzle of her mysterious past, however.

The fact that this is directed by Joe Wright (‘Atonement’, ‘The Soloist’), definitely makes this film stand-out a lot more considering this guy isn’t really known for adrenaline-bumping action flicks. Still, it’s great to see a director who can actually get out of his comfort zone a bit and actually do a pretty good job with it.

What I liked about Wright’s direction was how much style this dude put into this flick. There are plenty of beautiful visual moments where it almost seems like you’re watching a rave party go down and how he just keeps the camera moving on the action is very tense and creates this sort of “nowhere to hide” atmosphere. It takes a lot for a director to take a total 180 from doing Jane Austen adaptations to doing action films, but he definitely shows a lot more promise when it comes to action than a lot of these other directors that have seeming to been doing it for over 10 to 20 years by now.

What always kept staying in my mind the whole time with this flick was the awesome action scenes and how Wright’s style really added a whole bunch more to them. In ‘Atonement’, Wright used this 7 and a half minute tracking shot and it was not only beautiful but also very unneeded especially for that flick. He does the same thing here with a couple of scenes but there was one that stuck in my mind and it felt right to the whole movie considering it actually keeps on continuing to build up more and more as the shot continues. There was this one shot where we see Hanna’s dad get off of a bus and end up at a subway station where he is met by 4 dudes who obviously want to beat his ass and the camera never leaves as we see him walking and then kicking ass. It was definitely one of the most memorable scenes from this flick and was a really good use of a tracking shot, and everybody knows how much of a sucker I am for those kinds of shots.

Let me also not forget to mention that the score/soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers is absolutely phenomenal and what I think separates this from many other thrillers. There’s always a constant dub beat in the background of this flick and it keeps on getting louder and louder and louder until you feel like you just entered a club full of teens all strung-out on ecstasy. I never really have been a fan of those guys much but when it comes to scoring an action flick, they do the job just about as perfect as Hanz Zimmer has been doing for the past couple of years.

The problem with this flick is that even though on the technical front, it’s astonishing, everything else seems to be pretty lame. The script isn’t anything special, nor is it anything worth recommending. Too many times did this film focus on Hanna and her little trip with this family where she got to see the world and encounter all of life’s problems on her own. Right from the beginning I knew they were going to go down this road so when it actually did happen it was kind of disappointing since it seemed like this flick was going to be a tad different from anything else that I’ve seen. It also didn’t help that I couldn’t really get attached to Hanna’s character considering she’s just one of those fish-out-of-water characters that obviously looks like she is a little Coo-Coo for Coco Puffs so it’s not like I could feel anything for her since she didn’t really have much to worry about because every person that walked into her, she practically killed right away.

Still, though, the biggest problem this flick hits with its end is that there is a little plot twist they decide to throw in here that was too obvious and the end with how Blanchett’s shoes come into play was a little too goofy. The film was just a bummer because it obviously drops the ball when it came to being a cool moment and it’s just a shame that Wright didn’t get a script that deserved him because he is probably the biggest star of this whole flick.

However, the cast is pretty good and I can’t really put the blame on them for anything whatsoever. Saoirse Ronan is pretty bad-ass as Hanna and seems like that sort of weird and freaky-looking kid that would be a secret cold-blooded killer, but then again watch in 10 years when I’m calling her the hottest chick on the planet; Eric Bana is pretty awesome as her daddy and is allowed to show off his action stuff; and Cate Blanchett is pretty much a total bitch as the evil and sinister Marissa. Good cast all around just not enough on the script side to give them the love that they deserve.

Consensus: Hanna is super stylized with a pumping score from The Chemical Brothers, and some very cool-looking action scenes courtesy of Joe Wright, however, the script fails to live up to the direction and just ends up being a little too boring and obvious to ignore after awhile.



  1. Several people kept nagging me to see this because they told me it was incredible and by the time I finally got around to it I was disappointed. It does look pretty (especially that subway fight scene) and the music is also great, but the story is where this movie is really lacking. I thought it was thin and confusing at best, although the twist at the end could potentially be played out into a cool sequel where she finds other kids like her.

  2. I thought this one was one of the best of 2011, loved it for the same reasons you did. My guess is that it was supposed to be a ‘simple’ film with lots of style and thats what they were going for, the whole style over matter thing. I loved how they used David Bowies “kooks” on this one, it fits perfectly with the whole scene, considering the lyrics and all.

      • I dont really see this one as an action film, it does have some action elements to it, but I see more as a coming of age film, a character learning the ropes of the real world on her own, learning to become an adult so to speak.

        I admit, the script is not overtly complicated, but to me the script also spoke about some important themes as well, like for example, how much we all rely on technology and gadgets, when Hannah first encounters all these things, after having lived in the forest for so long, she’s so bothered by all these mechanical things because she’s used to nature.

  3. For a moment there, reading the beginning, I thought you were going to like it a lot more. 😦

    I thought the style and the action and the soundtrack helped bolster what was otherwise kind of a nondescript script. I liked this one a lot.

    I hear what youre saying though, cant really dispute any of it…

  4. I’m with Dan – loved this film. The almost schizophrenic nature of the film, flipping between the “usual” thriller scenes to Hanna’s almost teen film like scenes with her new British family, were great. Made it different.

    The soundtrack from the Chemical Brothers killed it for me. Loved that.

  5. I totally agree with you. In my review, I said that it felt like this had two screenwriters. One who wrote stunning action sequences, and one who snuck in and edited the script so that these had the most silly vibes. Still, a hell of a fun film.

  6. I thought this film was okay, but not great. My biggest disappointment was that I felt Blanchett just mailed in her performance in this film.

  7. Neither an action movie nor a coming of age flick Hanna is a fairy tale. With big bad (tracksuit wearing) wolves and wicked witches of the west, Hanna must learn what is right and wrong for the Grimmesque finale to work.

    Utterly captivating film-making, and I think you’re score’s a little harsh.

  8. I have mixed feelings for this movie. I appreciate the originality, but it was almost a little too stylish for my taste. There were a couple very cool action scenes, and I loved Tom Hollander’s character, but the whole part where Hanna visits that weird family lost my interest in the movie a little bit. Good movie, but far from great. Good review, Dan!

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