Released: 2011
Director: Joe Wright

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett

A decent thriller let down by serious plotholes

I don’t know if it’s all to do with female empowerment or if it’s what male studio executives think will appeal to female audiences but there seems to be a trend over the past few years for films with young female killers. Starting with Mathilda in Leon, through to Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass and the titular heroine of 2011’s action-adventure the sixteen year-old Hanna we’ve seen several little girls with guns who are happy to take on and kill the bad guys.

Hanna (played by Saoirse Ronan) has been raised by her father Erik, isolated in the Finnish wilderness. Here he has trained her to be the perfect killing machine skilled in the use of different weapons and fluent in several languages. Hanna has been shielded from all external influences and has never experience electricity, music or further human contact. When their hiding place is discovered by the CIA and ruthless agent Marissa Wiegler, played by Cate Blanchett, Hanna and Erik go their separate ways and arrange to meet up in Germany. Despite being captured by the CIA, Hanna escapes and hitches a ride from Morocco to Spain with a terribly middle-class British family and from there carries on to Germany.

I enjoyed Hanna a lot. As a chase movie with exciting action sequences it more than fulfilled its brief to keep the audience entertained, but I did have some major issues with the film’s plot. If Hanna is captured in Finland, how on earth does she end up in Morocco? Is this where the CIA take all child assassins for questioning? The scenes with Hanna first experiencing electricity are good but we’re then expected to believe that within hours of first turning on a light she is aware of and able to use the internet without too many problems? There was too much suspension of disbelief involved to make the film totally coherent.

The plotholes however were more than made up for by the great performances. Saoirse Ronan has a wisdom and ability beyond her years and I imagine that over the coming decade or so she and Jennifer Lawrence will be competing for the best and most intelligent roles for young actresses. Cate Blanchett is something of a wicked witch character, which fits in well with the film’s fairy tale motif. Tom Hollander as the white tracksuited assassin is gloriously camp but the film belongs to Olivia Williams as the very worthy and hippy yummy mummy Rachel.

The action sequences and fight scenes were more than decent and were helped along by a pounding soundtrack courtesy of The Chemical Brothers. The problem came in between the action scenes where everything just drifts along slowly and there are more questions raised than answered. Why did Erik allow the CIA to find their hiding place? Why the fascination with the Brothers Grimm and fairytales? Why would an assassin with a penchant for bloody deaths wear a white tracksuit?

The plot is muddled but the cast, particularly Ronan, more than compensate for that. Hanna is good, but no more than that and it seems a little bit of a waste of an intriguing premise and talented cast.

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