Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ten Statements About....HANNA (2011)

Much like The Doctor, the last thing you want to put
in a trap is Hanna
“Hannah, what did your mother die of?”
“Three bullets."

1) I think we have to accept that right now Europe has overtaken America in the way they make action movies.  This film, just like so many co-productions with German and French studios, has a kineticism and momentum American action movies seem to have lost in all the shakey-cam and ‘just go with it’ sensibilities.  That being said...

2) I find the science fiction/super hero element that’s introduced fairly late into the film a little discordant.  Truth be told, I don’t think the whole ‘origin’ aspect had to be there.  There’s nothing Saorise Ronan’s (Is there nothing more perfect than an action star whose last name sounds like ‘ronin’?) Hanna does can’t be done by an extremely talented and competent athlete.  Dragging in genetic manipulation and talk of super soldiers doesn’t add anything to the movie’s tapestry.

3) One of the best aspects of the film is how Ronan never lets us forget that this is still a teenage girl, albeit one who spent all her life in the middle of nowhere training with her father.  Ronan easily conveys how Hanna, at her core, yearns for the same thing any teenage girl needs--friendship, romance, family--but just doesn’t have the social skills.  It’s those moments where she struggles with her needs that the movie is at its best.
"No, really...I do have a southern accent.  I do!"

4) On the other side of the coin, we have Cate Blanchett’s Marissa, who is a cardboard villain at best.  I’ve become convinced that these days Blanchett looks for characters solely based on whether she gets to do a new accent or not.  This time she’s doing a southern belle sorta patois that appears and disappears randomly, and that’s all we can say about Marissa, who just dresses nice and stomps around like Godzilla on a daytrip to Tokyo.

5) Much more interesting a villain in his short time in the film is Tom Hollander’s Isaac.  With the sort of distinct appearance and mannerisms of a Bond henchman, Isaacs actually brightens up scenes he’s in.  And while he’s dispatched by the person I expected him to be dispatched by, I still wish he lived on to the final climax.

6) There’s a real strong fairy tale motif throughout this film, beginning with Hanna and her father living in a house in the woods to the references to Marissa as ‘the witch’ right on to the film’s ending, which among other things has Marrisa appear from the mouth of The Big Bad Wolf.  Sometimes the imagery gets heavy handed, but sometimes it’s extremely subtle and poetic.
"If you're good, I'll show you my
'O' Face...Oooh,  Oooh, Oooh...'

7) I really wish there was more done with the Australian family headed by Olivia Williams’ Rachel and Jason Flemyng’s Sebastian.  Not only do these two provide a respite from Blanchett’s scenery chewing, the family serves as a touchstone to normalcy in a film which has been all punchy-punchy run-run and spy stuff isolated from the real world up to that point.

8) It’s to Eric Bana’s credit that I didn’t recognize him as Eric, Hanna’s ‘father.’  He effectively disappears inside the character to the point where I couldn’t identify him until the credits.

9) Of the action sequences, my favorite was not the escape from the facility--obvious made to be the main set piece of the film--but the chase through the shipping facility, with Hanna going all pakour-y on the top of containers.  It’s not only that it’s shot moodily at night with spots providing dimension and contrast, but the way the sequence happens on two levels and keeps switching planes and orientation.

10) I loved the scene with Martin Wuttke’s Knepfler....but man, the guy simply did not deserve that gruesome of a fate.  Considering that other characters who provide grace notes of joy, like the family, aren’t slaughtered, seeing him getting the Saint Sebastian treatment is a bit of a comedown.

Overall...a very compelling, very quirky action flick carried by an excellent central performance by Ronan and strong supporting performances.  If you can overlook Blachette’s terrible turn, you will find it enjoyable.

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