Hanna was a bit of a strange one for me. Before seeing it I had seen the different trailers for it, plus quite a few TV spots yet it had never really been quite sold to me. Still when someone suggested we went to see it I went along with an open mind and I have to admit I really enjoyed it.
The film is the story of a teenage girl who has been raised as a survivor – the film opens with her hunting a deer using a bow and arrow – and at the start there’s no real back-story given into how or why she was being brought up in this way. What does become apparent is that she is very highly trained, highly skilled, and is being kept secret and hidden for some reason. She also doesn’t appear to know much of the world – screaming at the sight of an aeroplane flying overhead. Naturally this peace doesn’t last long and like the main character we are thrust into the world leading to a – if rather dis-orientating – exhilarating experience.
The film seems very sure of what it is doing, and which steps it is taking – giving a drip feed of back story and information giving an idea of how this situation was reached, whilst at the same time allowing you to feel the joy and wonderment that Hanna has as she reacts to the world around her. It makes it a big of a hard film to get your head around with the thriller elements at juxtaposition with other parts of the film. The way sound is used also really works with the film – blaring tracks by the Chemical Brothers in the action scenes and more natural sounds in the quieter moments. An escape sequence early in the film blasts your senses with the pumping soundtrack, carefully chosen camera angles and good use of strobing lights to really set your heart racing, sharing the thrill of the case/escape. Another particular scene of note was where the camera followed a character getting off a train and walking through a station to the subway – all this time their being shadowed and in what appears to be one shot, the camera stays close allowing you to see glimpses of the men behind whilst also following where the character is walking whilst the tension builds throughout the scene. Towards the end of the film the action moves to an abandoned theme park which is at the same time magical and creepy – it was an inspired choice of location.
The leads are all fantastic – Eric Bana almost unrecognisable as the father to the lead character, and Cate Blanchett (who I normally don’t like in films) giving a very understated, lizard like performance. Stand out of course was Saoirse Ronan playing the title character is outstanding bringing a physicality yet vulnerability to what is a demanding role to play. My only problem is that with the accents Ronan and Bana use for the first half of the film I though that Blanchetts character was Bieber not Wiegler which added an un-intended humour to the film.
Hanna was a very different film and I don’t think that everyone who sees it will like it – one person I went to see it with really didn’t like it, but then again really enjoyed Suckerpunch (my review here) which is possibly the easiest comparison to make. At the end of the day Hanna’s an exhilarating thriller that doesn’t seem afraid to push the boundaries.