There were probably worries that director Joe Wright’s film, “Hanna” would be confused with “Hanna Montana;” he has nothing to worry about whatsoever. The only similarities between the two characters are that they are both young and female and that’s where they stop. Hanna Montana slays audiences of kids with her singing while Hanna slays highly trained killers with martial arts and improvised weapons. The film is a well acted drama about a teenage girl who is trained by her father since infancy to be an elite assassin bent on revenge.
Saoirse Ronan who was in Wright’s Academy Award winning film “Atonement,” does a wonderful job in the title role. She deftly communicates the confusion and frustration of an adolescent who has been isolated from the world to do her father’s bidding. Watching “Hanna” is almost like watching the TV series “Heroes.” The character Claire is much like Hanna; both have enormous power and responsibility slammed onto their shoulders despite their desire to live a normal life. Unlike Claire, Hanna doesn’t constantly complain about her responsibilities.
As Hanna’s father Erik, Eric Bana is concerned for his daughter’s safety but at the same time, knowingly puts her in harm’s way to make good their revenge. Eric does a good job playing it low key in his performance. Again, the similarity to “Heroes” is apparent because Erik is like the character Noah Bennet. Both are intelligent, highly resourceful and when necessary, absolutely ruthless when it comes to achieving their goals.
The person who really steals the show however is Cate Blanchett who is easily one of the best actresses of the twenty-first century. Once again, her ability to immerse herself into any role like a chameleon makes her stand out amongst her cast mates. As the primary antagonist Marissa, when compared against other rogue, evil government agents, she nears the top of the list. Other villains at least have some noble cause to follow such as blind patriotism or a misguided sense of justice or revenge. There is no ambiguity about where Marissa stands; she is clearly out for her own self-interest and uses manipulation, extortion and murder to achieve her means. At the end of the day, she is like a foundering employee of a major company who tries to save her job by any means necessary.
Despite the good direction, story, soundtrack and acting of the movie, it’s hard not compare it to the director’s previous film “Atonement” to “Hanna.” Of course not everybody has seen “Atonement” so it may be an unfair comparison. For those who have, it’s almost impossible not to make. Because of this, the viewer may feel like the film lacks “Atonement’s” depth despite the fact that they are two totally different stories. Also, because of Wright’s dramatic focus, the action-movie, edge of your seat feel isn’t there unlike other action/espionage flicks such as “The Bourne Identity” or “Taken.” Still, Joe Wright does the genre justice by making a film that spends 111 minutes well.