Hanna stars Saoirse Ronan as a girl raised in the frozen forests of Finland to be an assassin. Her ex-CIA father Erik (Eric Bana) is merciless in her training, wanting her to focus only on fighting and surviving. Her final test is to face shady government agent Marissa (Cate Blanchett), a woman who will use every resource possible to kill Hanna and Erik. As her mission takes her from country to country, the deadly yet naive Hanna learns about the real world, her murdered mother, and revelations about who she really is.
Eric Bana has said in interviews that he wasn’t so concerned about what his role would be in Hanna when he read the script–he just knew he wanted to be a part of it. After seeing the movie, I can understand why he felt so strongly. It’s essentially an arthouse action film. While the fighting, killing and chilling suspense make for a great action picture, the heart of Hanna is in its storytelling. Instead of the usual formula of all flash and no feeling, Hanna draws the viewer into the life of a teenage girl and makes us care deeply about her and her fate.
The ethereal nature of Hanna and some of the blurry edges of the plot make this more of a fable, rather than a straight adventure story. The heavy doses of romanticism and somewhat exotic horror elements give the viewer a feeling of a story that’s been told many times, passed down and embellished along the way.
Ronan is stellar as the title character. She manages to convincingly portray a cool and efficient killing machine, but she never lets us forget that she is also an innocent and lost teenage girl. She is sweet, starry-eyed, menacing and unsettling all at once.
Bana was also the perfect choice to play Erik. While he can give you chills with scarily cold eyes, grim determination, aggressiveness, and domineering physicality, he’s also able to shift ever so subtly to reveal fatherly warmth, integrity, love, anguish and regret underneath all of that grim violence. Both Ronan and Bana give haunting performances that will stick with you long after the film is over.
The film is beautifully shot, with an admirable attention to detail, creating a breathtaking scene within each frame. The acting is excellent, the story engaging, and the film excels at nail-biting suspense and dread. You never get to relax while watching this movie. The suspense is magnified by the fact that you develop an attachment to several of the characters, including a hippie-ish traveling family lead by the always engaging Olivia Williams (Dollhouse, The Sixth Sense).
Hanna is definitely worth seeing, and probably requires multiple viewings to fully appreciate it. My initial feeling after seeing the film was that there was something missing, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. There are maybe a few things that could be considered plot holes, or elements that were simply too vague, and it gave me the feeling that Hanna had some sort of lost puzzle piece that kept it from being a perfect and complete picture. As the days passed, however, the film stayed with me. I couldn’t get the characters or their predicaments out of my mind. And I began to wonder if maybe those little unsettling missing links were intentional, requiring viewers to continue thinking about the story Hanna was trying to tell–and what lessons to take from it.
**Want to discuss the film after you’ve seen it? Take all of your SPOILERY discussions over to the Hanna Screencaps and Spoilers post!
Eric Bana Perving Factor: Pretty darn good. Not only is he in top acting form, but he’s also physically stunning in this. There is full-on running with those gorgeous long legs of his, as well as some wet and shirtless fun. So glad I got to drink him in on the big screen.
PHOTOS: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett in Hanna, screencaps c2011 Holleran Co., Studio Babelsberg & Focus Features.