11 04 2011


Female superhero movies are few and far between. Children’s superhero movies are even rarer. In Hanna, these two genres combine to form the title character, a sixteen year old, biologically-enhanced assassin girl.

Hanna’s development begins somewhere in the Arctic Circle, where her ex-CIA operative father is training her in the ways of the world. By the time she leaves, she has acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of geography and deadly combat skills.

saoirse ronan hanna

More dangerous than she looks

Unlike most sixteen year old girls, Hanna’s coming of age occurs when she activates a homing beacon, which alerts the CIA to her position. After Hanna (intentionally) gets captured, the plot quickly picks up speed.

The young assassin is flown to an underground lair in the Moroccan desert for examination. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know what happens next: Hanna violently breaks out of the facility, setting off a deadly chase around the world.

Saoirse Ronan is captivating as Hanna. There is a surprising amount of depth to the character, and Ronan easily pulls it off. She manages to show the normal, teenage-girl side of the character, while not letting the audience forget that she could kill at any second.

hanna 2011

Eric Bana stars as...Erik, Hanna's father

I may not know how to pronounce her name, but Saiorse Ronan is quickly becoming the best actress of her generation.

Since Hanna has spent most of her life in the Arctic forest, much of the movie revolves around Hanna’s ability to adapt to the situation around her. Electricity, music, and friends are all foreign concepts, and Hanna gets into several awkward situations during this learning process.

One scene in particular stands out: after finding a room in which to spend the night, Hanna is overwhelmed by the surrounding technology. In the process of trying to turn off the overheating kettle, she turns on two ceiling fans, the television, an alarm clock, and the shower. In response, Hanna runs away, terrified.

Hanna has a number of unique qualities which distance it from the competition. The musical score from The Chemical Brothers provides a pulsing, futuristic beat, while the direction (by Joe Wright) offers a deeper layer of meaning. This artistic aspect provides some interesting shots without becoming too distracting.

spree park Berlin hanna 2011

Parts of the movie take place at Spreepark, an abandoned fairy tale amusement park in Berlin

In addition to the mysterious characters and suspenseful plot, there is a strong action component. The martial arts and hand-to-hand combat sequences in particular are an impressive sight to behold.

The one thing holding Hanna back is its bizarre plot holes. When a British family encounters Hanna wandering alone in the Moroccan desert, they introduce themselves and then happily drive away. After Hanna encounters them later that night, they praise her father for teaching her to be independent. Hanna looks far younger than she actually is, and is clearly too young (although more than capable enough) to be traveling on her own.

Another scene shows Hanna’s father, Erik (Eric Bana), jumping into the ocean near his isolated Arctic cabin. In the next scene, he’s casually pulling himself out of the water near a major city. Exactly how far did he swim?

In spite of these oddities, Hanna is fantastically entertaining. I always applaud a movie for trying new things, and Hanna spectacularly succeeds at developing its unique identity. Between the action, mystery, and artistry, Hanna has something to please everyone.