Posted by: greercn | May 9, 2011


Lurking in the land between spy movies “Nikita” and “Salt”, “Hanna” overflows with beautiful photography and music. Cinematographer Alwin H Kuchler’s eye for both the gorgeous and the stark works alongside the Chemical Brothers’ best music ever and the whole feels breathless and engaging.

That’s a good thing as you might miss the gaping holes in the plot. Joe Wright has excellent form as a director of both “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement”.  The weakness here is that he can’t quite answer any of the questions he poses but elects, instead, to go for a soft focus on Saoirse Ronan’s running figure, which becomes reminiscent of Rachel McAdams’ turn in “Morning Glory”.

Saoirse as “Hanna” is a killer, trained in isolation by dad Eric Bana. It isn’t clear whether boredom or natural progress make her escape her snowy hideaway, but she goes on the run through bits of Finland, Morocco, Finland and Germany.

It feels like the best kind of modern German movie, with campsites, flamenco, young love and friendship tempting Hanna away from her running. It shares with “The White Ribbon” a sense of a grand and important thing happening, but neglects to give you more than a tempting hint of what that might be.

Hanna has a date to meet dad at the Grimm museum in Berlin. Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett – elegant in Armani and Prada – wants to kill Hanna and her father, having already despatched Hanna’s mother and granny.

Why is Cate so committed to this killing? Why did dad raise Hanna to kill? Is Tom Hollander’s turn the most outrageous set of gay stereotypes ever? Has Jason Flemyng ever looked happier in his rather troll-like role?

Is it sensible to go on the run when you have very long blonde hair and you look like Gwyneth Paltrow, Vanessa Redgrave and, indeed, Cate Blanchett? There isn’t any effort to hide Ronan’s very distinctive looks and you would notice her in a crowd.

The attempts on young Hanna’s life are almost akin to religious mythology in the bright detail and glowing that goes on around her. But there are no explicit pointers to this and Hanna’s life appears to have no purpose other than staying alive despite the government agencies striving to end her life.

All these are small matters. I thoroughly enjoyed it as did all at the packed Stratford Picturehouse. There are a few bits that linger in the 111 minutes, but these pass quickly in favour of more chasing, catching, warm family vignettes and violence.

I query the “12” certificate. The violence is very graphic and seems a bit much for young teenagers, but I suppose they are used to video games and have a higher point of pain on these sections than I do. 

Don’t think. Emjoy the high octane feel, which includes glorious but brief performances from Olivia Williams, Jessica Barden and Mohamed Majd. The German and Arabic are excellent and – hooray – the subtitles are just perfect, conveying the right meanings.

I have no idea what the ending might mean, so I expect there will be a sequel. If Joe Wright directs that, I will want to see it as I think there are some hints of great things to come from him. For me, it’s beautiful, has terrific music and is thoroughly enjoyable. The only disappointment is that there are so many hints of a much better movie that might have been.


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