Monday, October 3, 2011

"I just missed your heart."

Film: Hanna
Year: 2011
Director: Joe Wright
Written by: Seth Lochead and David Farr
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden, Vicky Krieps.
Running time: 111 min.

Imagine living out in the forest with your father, away from everything. Wouldn't it be so hard? Being so far away from civilisation, living in something similar to a cave, and having to fetch your own deer as some food to last for maybe a week or two. Now imagine being a teenager stuck in a forest. No Facebook, cellphones or iPods...THAT WOULD BE SO HARD! Well, for most of the teenagers who grace the Earth these days. Take a look at Hanna (Saoirse Ronan). She was brought up living in a forest with her father (Eric Bana), without ever hearing the sound of music, being taught stuff by her father. She didn't turn out so bad. Oh, and she could probably beat your ass in five seconds. Now, she's off to get out of the forest and into the big world...all at the flick of a switch. Her mission in the big wide world is to kill Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), but this seemingly easy task turns out a little harder than expected. Oh well, once Hanna thinks she has killed Marissa (she only really killed someone trying to be Marissa), Hanna finds herself in Morocco and tries to deal with the real world. The real world that she never knew existed.

Hanna is a film which I have been looking forward to for a long time, especially considering that we got it in cinemas around five months after everyone else and it's taken me a month since the release date to actually see it. My initial expectations were high, but they went down a lot after waiting such a long time, and the fact that I had accepted that I wasn't going to see it until it came out on DVD until my father surprised me with the opportunity to go to the movies in the weekend. However, I've always had problems with my expectations not aligning with my reality, and that was kinda relevant in this situation. It wasn't that Hanna wasn't a good film. It was a very good film. While there are flaws, I can't really absolutely pinpoint the stuff that made it not so great for me. I just didn't really enjoy it all that much and found it a little disappointing. But hey, that was pretty much a knee jerk reaction. I have mulled over the film for the past 24 hours and I've realised that maybe I liked it more than I did back then. Still, it was a slight disappointment.

Joe Wright's direction was probably my favourite part of the film. You probably don't need me going on about how this is different to what he usually does and blah blah blah...his direction was just fucking awesome here. I remember reading an article about how he was as scared as hell to direct his first action sequence, but he did a bloody great job with all of them. The action sequences in the film (there aren't really that many, which obviously angered the teenage boys sitting behind me who exclaimed 'this is the worst movie ever' when the credits hit) are flawlessly done, and are made even better by the rocking score by The Chemical Brothers in the background. Gosh, that music was a work of art. It provided the necessary badassery and a really good spin on the folklore the script was trying to weave into the film. It was a really ecletic soundtrack that made everything more exciting. Apart from that flawless opening scene - it had absolutely no music, and it still rocked.

And then there is the acting. Saoirse Ronan just continues to make me jealous in 500 different ways with her utterly fearless portrayal of the 16 year old basically just being born into our world. She's simply fascinating to watch. Her German accent is perfect, she provides her character with the necessary little girl lost side and she makes herself as strong as her character is. The rest of the characters kind of fall behind her. Eric Bana is good, but he's perhaps a little under-used. Cate Blanchett, who is always good, does a brilliant job of being a wicked witch. However, her character, even with the fierce Southern accent and the fiery red hair, certainly does raise a few questions, but leaves few answers. She seemed very two-dimensional to me. Tom Hollander really creeped me out, with his tracksuit and his whistling, but he was really 'just there' for me. The family Hanna catches up with provided some good comic relief. Of course, here I have to make a special point about one of my favourite actresses: Olivia Williams. Yeah, she was a good mother figure in such a kooky family. And I'm not letting go of the fact that her performance in The Ghost Writer was the best of 2010. Never.

The film is technically brilliant, and I have to admit, it has a refreshing take on a storyline that isn't exactly unique. However, despite the fact that it is extremely well made and acted, it just felt to me that there was something missing. The film hits its true potential when it really starts to get going, which is usually during the action sequences. Now, this may sound like I'm one of those ADD teens who have to have action throughout the entire film, but the action sequences really are the best parts of the film, and the rest kinda falls flat. It is fascinating to watch how Hanna tries to adapt to this new world, but some of the things we see are combined with varying degrees of boredom. Its like the film is in a sprint race, but there is constantly a false start. Hanna also takes itself far too seriously, especially as it gets into the scientific stuff behind Hanna's odd past. There are a few things like this which make this film far less enjoyable than it should have been. The film's softer side, looking at the possibility of romance and finding a family who are all very happy, is a good one, but it just never feels complete. Neither do the connections to folklore, which could have really worked. But they always feel just there, and they really aren't fully developed. The film struggles to develop itself as either an arthouse picture or an action/thriller, or get a proper balance of them both. Unfortunately, Hanna exists in a world of what could have been. But what it is really isn't that bad at all.

What I got (I wouldn't say this rating is exactly right...I wouldn't hesitate to give it a higher rating than this one suggests, but I wouldn't go as far as giving it the 'Nice Ascot'.):


  1. Well you in Dannevirke have seen this before it has even turned up in Napier!!! This is a film I've been in anticipation all year and I honestly can't believe it has taken soooooooo long to get here.

  2. I quite liked it, and you're right, the action sequences are definitely the highlight. I've been a fan of The Chemical Brothers for a while so I liked what they did with their music here. Overall, a strong enough action film to stand on it's own two feet, but not worth writing home about.

  3. What makes Hanna very special is the fact that it's a female-centered action film, not focusing on the sexiness of the female character (Lara Croft, I love you, but I also know why so many males watched that film), and that the main character is a teenage girl, even though it's not a teenage-chick-flick.
    And I need that soundtrack - thanks for reminding me!

  4. PS: Could you delete me from your blog roll, and then put me on it again, because I've changed the name of the blog a little, so... that would be super nice :)

  5. I actually really liked it. I was so in love with Ronan and the direction and the music and the action. But I did think the ending was really quick, and I just didn't get why only Cate Blanchett cared about Hanna's secret.
    Maybe I should watch it again. I saw it after a slew of disappointing films, so this was quite a pleasant change.

  6. Well Stevee, I think an "I just missed your heart." rating would be perfect for occasions like this one.

  7. When I saw it, I quite enjoyed it. I find though that the more distance I get from this film the more I'm starting to really sort of love it. There are so many fantastic little details that work to elevate it in memory as a remarkably original action movie. Also...I can see where the two-dimension comment comes from in regard to Blanchett, but damn did I love to hate her here...

  8. I was a little underwhelmed by the film but it was still good. Creepy whistling!!! I hate it and love it.

  9. This is finally hitting Netflix this week. Hopefully, I can get my hands on it for a weekend watch! Seems like your review is in line with many others I have read, that it's pretty solid but one shouldn't expect anything too mindblowing :)

  10. "I just didn't really enjoy it all that much and found it a little disappointing." - Exactly what I thought of it. And my rating was "don't be afraid to dream" as well, but now I would give it the nice ascot.

  11. Brent - That's weird, coz it has been out for a month! Well, I had to go to Palmy to see it, of course. Our cinema is completely out of action now (which I guess is better than having it play movies that are just about out on DVD).

    Tyler - I've always liked The Chemical Brothers too, and their music was so brilliant here.

    Mette - Yup, I agree with you. It was cool that this was different from your average female-assassin flick. I need the soundtrack too...when I get some more money I'll be buying it off iTunes!
    And I changed your thing. I hope it's right!

    Nikhat - I didn't get why Cate was the only one who cared about Hanna. I mean, surely there were more people involved than just her!
    I actually saw this after seeing Your Highness and Sucker Punch again. I guess this looked like a masterpiece compared to them!

    Bonjour Tristesse - That's what I was thinking! I might actually make that a rating when I revamp them all sometime.

    wilde.dash - Yeah, I figured that I like this a bit more now than I did when I walked out of the cinema. There are some great moments in it!

    Robert - Creepy whistling! Haha, I'm gonna learn how to whistle like that just to creep people out :P

    Castor - Still give it a go, see what you think. It's not a terrible film!

    Lesya - I was tempted to give it the nice ascot, but then I realised the Inception one would be much more realistic. We'll see how much I like it in a month or two.

  12. I think I know you felt a bit disappointed. Perhaps, it was because of the paper-thin plot of the film. You know, Hanna is released into the world to kill . . .(What's the name again of Cate Blanchett again here?)

    However, given the plot, I would say the film is great. Not to mention, the one long shot with Eric Bana in the subway. That was just lovely.

    Although, I would still like a bit more action, as you know the actions are well-rehearsed.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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