Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

REVIEW | "Hanna" is the Ass-Kicker that "Sucker Punch" Wanted to Be

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Indiewire April 4, 2011 at 4:49AM

In "Hanna," director Joe Wright successfully recycles almost every action movie trope of the past decade. From the seamless hand-on-hand combat to the appropriately frenzied soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers, the resulting adrenaline-packed vehicle delivers a multi-directional sugar rush. It moves so quickly that the bells and whistles blur together.
1

In "Hanna," director Joe Wright successfully recycles almost every action movie trope of the past decade. From the seamless hand-on-hand combat to the appropriately frenzied soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers, the resulting adrenaline-packed vehicle delivers a multi-directional sugar rush. It moves so quickly that the bells and whistles blur together.

It's a tightly packaged ride, which hardly makes "Hanna" a masterpiece. However, it does provide a nifty alternative to the inane narrative of "Sucker Punch," a bloated and incoherent overload of visual splendor for which Wright himself has expressed disdain. And the small scale and unconventional protagonist allow "Hanna" some distinction when most of its contemporary brethren are loud, souped-up CGI spectacles. Not unlike last year's "Kick Ass," Wright's movie revolves around a young girl trained to kill. However, "Kick Ass" embraced dime-store subversiveness -- a 12-year-old breaking the necks of grown-up baddies -- and "Hanna" centers on a much more nuanced character whose ferocity actually makes sense beyond her underlying badass appeal.

The titular 16-year-old (Saoirse Ronan, whose performance in Wright's "Atonement" landed her an Oscar nomination at 13) has grown up in the icy wilderness of northern Finland, raised by her father Erik (Eric Bana) under mysterious circumstances. Gradually, it becomes clear that Erik has endowed her with startlingly potent self-defense skills, which come in handy when young Hanna decides she's ready to venture into the world. There, she must face down trenchant FBI agent Marissa (an enjoyably icy Cate Blanchett). Erik, a former intelligence man himself, heads to a hiding place while Hanna follows the path he has set for her, nimbly escaping FBI captivity and set on murdering the woman allegedly responsible for her mother's death. (That would be Marissa.)

An eerily affectless child whose sci-fi origin story only becomes clear during the movie's energetic conclusion, Hanna's completely isolated childhood means that she views everything as a threat. Escaping from an underground military base in the middle of the desert, she hitches a ride with a traveling family and befriends their daughter, but turns immediately violent when the two girls go on a doubledate with some guys they encounter at their hotel and one of them makes the mistake of going in for a kiss.

This amusing moment is matched by Hanna's expression of wonder when she first discovers electricity. But the screenplay by Seth Lochhead can't possibly convey the extraordinary curiosity that registers on Ronan's face. The movie belongs to her; check out those measured blue eyes and the dedicated stare on the "Hanna" poster that follows you around the room. Wright's frenetic direction frames the performance with an appropriately swift pace.

Despite a few false alarms, Hanna generally has reason for concern. With Marissa and her henchmen on her tail -- and her father attempting to reach her at a rendezvous in Germany -- Hanna is constantly on the run, dodging bullets and hurling punches with ceaseless energy.

With its government goons and unstoppable heroine, "Hanna" walks and talks like an unofficial entry in the "Bourne Identity" franchise with ample doses of "Kill Bill"-style western pastiche. Wright's earlier credits, including two mannered period pieces, may not have suggested this was his cup of tea. But now that he has found a groove, maybe he can rescue American action movies from the wasteland of boring spectacles and keep the focus where it belongs -- in speedy timing and giddy payoffs. (Like "Source Code," it never gets any bigger than it should be.)

Nevertheless, the eventual explanation for Hanna's origin leaves much to be desired. The sensory experience doesn't linger and the opportunities for exciting set pieces usually fade before they develop a backbone, since Wright insists on moving along. Unsurprisingly, "Hanna" loses touch with its strengths when it slows things down.

HOW WILL IT PLAY? With its offbeat premise and a star whose name still isn't that widely known, "Hanna" may not become a box office smash, but should receive enough good reviews to perform decently in limited release and further solidify Ronan's burgeoning career.

criticWIRE grade: B+

"Hanna" opens in theaters on Friday, April 8.

This article is related to: In Theaters, Hanna






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More