Saoirse Ronan shines in action thriller.
At first, Hanna seems perplexing. It’s surprising when a director known for visually stunning costume dramas like Atonement (2007) and Pride and Prejudice (2005) successfully transitions into the world of blood–pumping thrillers. But after an opening sequence in which the film’s titular teenage girl stands above a buck she has just speared with her bow in the middle of the tundra, it becomes clear that director Joe Wright has gone beyond the average action flick.
Hanna (Ronan, who was lauded for her performance in The Lovely Bones) has been raised by her ex–CIA agent father (Bana) to be the ultimate warrior. The two live in total obscurity in the mountains of Finland until Hanna proves herself ready to re–enter the world. When her father finally sends her off, Hanna’s mission is to avenge her mother’s death by killing ruthless CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Blanchett) before Wiegler gets to her first.
The most important rule Hanna’s father passes on to her is “adapt or die,” which is an apt credo for the film itself. Ronan settles into her role as a fearless girl with an ethereal grace that’s at once jarring and hard to stop watching. Blanchett puts forth a fittingly sinister performance, although her Texan drawl is at times almost cartoonish. For his part, Bana doesn’t have much to do other than show up nearly naked or, alternatively, in an immaculate suit. Both options suggest pandering to the female demographic in a typically male genre.
The real scene–stealer, however, is the score. Written by The Chemical Brothers, the music is perfectly timed and paced, making every fight sequence and chase scene feel fresh rather than cliched. Not since Shoot ’Em Up has the standard gunfight seemed this intriguing.
While Hanna must constantly be on her guard, the wonderful thing about the movie bearing her name is that the viewer doesn’t have to be. Hanna is the perfect escapist, ass–kicking treat for the days when indie darlings seem to be too much.
Directed by: Joe Wright
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana
Rated PG–13, 111 min.