Madman Mundt and the Elf breakdown Joe Wright’s latest, Hanna. The film is out today, April 8.
It’s like The Bourne Identity with a pre-teen girl. At least, that’s what Hanna was on the page. On the screen? Not so much. I first read David Farr’s script a little over two years ago and loved it. My bossman at the time read it as well and – with his sandaled feet propped on the conference table – proclaimed, “No one makes female driven action movies.” Gotta love tiny minds. Salt came out soon after and say what you will – people went to see toothpick-armed Angelina leaping across semis and making pipe bombs out of table legs. When they unleashed the trailer for Hanna online there was a growing buzz about this pre-teen chick kicking ass and slaying elk and bad guys with equal aplomb. Solid fight scenes and arm-pumping chases draw crowds no matter who’s fighting and fleeing, right? Some of the best fight scenes I’ve witnessed in awhile were with little blonde child-star Chloe Moritz in Kick-Ass, so the whole “no one makes female driven action movies” quip can just go the way of the Ford Pinto or the flip-phone in my opinion. Which is why Hanna, sadly, is such a missed opportunity. Saoirse Ronan as the title character is magnetic and badass as usual, so it’s not her fault this movie falls short of its potential. The cinematography impresses (the lighting was so spot on it brought my own memories of train-riding and cigarette smoking through Germany in winter flooding back), so DP Alwin Kutchler has a get-out-of-jail-free card as well. There’s only one man to blame: director Joe Wright (Atonement, The Soloist). I’m not a fan of his movies (he’d be better suited to directing slick car commercials or perfume ads or Sofia Coppola movies — all style, no substance), so despite loving the script I had my reservations seeing the film. At least we can say this for Wright – he’s consistent.
It’s more Bourne Identity meets La Femme Nikita, except without a shred of the charm of either. I really liked the action sequences — that first one where she’s in the underground bunker for the first time had B.A.D.A.S.S. written all over it. That being said, it declined rapidly from the halfway mark; it was all setup, no resolution. Saoirse Ronan was spotless — she grounded the film, and added a level of humanity that even Matt Damon can’t equal in the Bourne series. She can switch from the most tenderhearted, sympathetic loner to spine-snapping assassin instantly. After that though, it falls apart quickly. There are so many questions when the movie starts (What could inspire a man to sacrifice his daughter’s entire childhood to train her as a simple tool of revenge? Why did he let her out of his life only to exact that revenge? What could have happened to this father that he would put his own revenge over the happiness and mental health of his daughter?) that as it develops you put your faith in the filmmaker to make it all make sense as it draws to a conclusion. The only problem is, all those questions only lead to answers that are more ridiculous than the last. Ronan is amazing — she’s so vulnerable and simultaneously voracious that you cannot help but root for her. And she’s amazing in her fight scenes; Hanna starts strong and ends strong, but the resolution is so aluminum and poorly developed — making even Cate Blanchett two-dimensional — that it squanders any good will established from the early development.
Hit the Jump to continue reading Mundt and Elf’s Hanna review…
I love that Matt Damon in the Bourne movies is cold and robotic, that’s hard to pull off and still create a sympathetic character and for me that’s part of the awesomeness of those movies. But we’re not reviewing a Bourne franchise. The fact that the characters’ motivations are unclear in Hanna and that there are so many unanswered questions falls on the shoulders of Wright. The movie just feels like it’s helmed by a dude who pays too much attention to how slick and badass his tracking shots are, and zero attention to the performances and the story. Like Wright is showing the world how cool and awesome he is. Like a circle jerk of one. I felt the same way watching Atonement. A great story suffered because of unneeded, showy camera moves and technical pageantry. Some of Hanna’s action sequences and set pieces are fun, sure, but the movie flip-flops between trying to be a big budget American action extravaganza and trying to be a raw, cool, European indie film. The title cards that bookend the movie belong in gritty low budget Euro flicks like Run Lola Run or This Is England or something, and they feel out of place in Hanna. And any director who manages to make Cate Blanchett into a BAD actress? A moustache-twirling villain? It says a lot about Ronan that her performance rises above the poor directing here. Blanchett’s off performance really surprised me.
I liked those title cards. “I just missed your heart.” You missed more than that, Wright.