I’ve approached this post many times since seeing Hanna a few weeks back, but have struggled to successfully review Joe Wright’s latest film, a fast paced actioner about a young girl raised as a killing machine and set the task of assassinating an intelligence agent. The film is such a mash-up of styles and genres that I am going to have to review it in pieces and then as a whole.
Here are the pieces:
- The beginning is essentially Leon in a forest, as a well-meaning European takes care of a girl and teaches her his best skill: killing. This is done well and sets an off-kilter tone to the film. Good stuff.
- I say a well-meaning European but Eric Bana’s accent is very hard to place and is a bit distracting. Bad stuff.
- An early chase scene is shot in such a dynamic way and edited with fantastic kaleidoscopic energy that it felt like a music video, not least because of the score provided by The Chemical Brothers. This from the director of Atonement? Amazing stuff.
- Cate Blanchett plays more a caricature than a character as Marissa the intelligence agent both hunting and being hunted by Hanna. Think more the white witch from Narnia than Scully. Although the hair… Alright stuff.
- On her travels to kill Marissa and reunite with her father, Hanna comes across a bohemian British family on holiday. Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams are the comedy middle class parents who find Hanna’s independence charming, while Jessica Barden is the snobby daughter who befriends Hanna and brings one of the films touching moments. For fun and heart: Good stuff.
- On two separate occasions Hanna manages to stumble upon locals of the various countries she visits engaging in spontaneous group singing that perfectly reflects the local culture. It’s a bit too ideal. Mediocre stuff.
- Tom Hollander plays a suitably creepy European sex club owner who for some reason doubles as a suitably creepy bounty hunter, happy to torture his way to finding Hanna for Marissa. Odd stuff.
- Towards the end there is a pretty lame plot twist that you see coming early on. Disappointing stuff.
- What made me love Atonement was a single shot that involved hundred of extras, a long beach and a skillful camera work. Hanna has a couple of these shots, not quite as impressive but each its own technical marvel. Awesome stuff.
- Finally it should be said that Saoirse Ronan is amazing as the deadly but naïve girl who is utterly selfless and will kill you as soon as kiss you. Brilliant stuff.
So Hanna is filled with stuff of varying levels of quality. Joe Wright is certainly talented and is breaking new ground for himself but lacks consistency within the one film. Quite satisfyingly (from a linguistic point of view) his directing style flits between Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, at one moment moving his camera in a controlled and understated fashion and the next he whips and cuts like he’s scared of losing your attention.
This is precisely what is wrong with Hanna, while the film has plenty of good stuff it doesn’t all gel into a coherent film. Joe Wright has got two jigsaws mixed up and the pieces may look like they go together but on closer inspection don’t quite fit.
Good fun though.