Saturday, April 16, 2011

REVIEW: Hanna (2011)

Director: Joe Wright
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett

Well, what can I say about this? The trailer looked frigging awesome. I mean, it seriously looked cool beyond belief, like some cutting edge, fresh action flick with a new twist. Just watch:

So, I was hyped up, and what sometimes happens when you do that? You get let down. It’s not to say Hanna is a terrible film, or even really a bad one, but it’s just so…average. That’s the best word for it. Average. Pedestrian. Nothing out of the ordinary. It’s an action movie about a girl who lives in the woods, has superpowers and is suddenly jerked out of her usual surroundings to…well, the rest of the world…where she is forced to do exactly what she has been doing all her life: fight. That’s…that’s pretty much it.

Really. I was hoping for a lot more from this! It’s an action movie about a girl who has a mission to kill these people who want to experiment on her, or kill her, or whatever it is they want to do – it’s very vague – and that’s it. There is no double meaning her, no deeper roots to this story. I do not feel that the characters are given much depth. The motivations are all pretty scanty and while the acting isn’t bad, none of the actual characters are fleshed out to the point where I wanted to find out what happened to them. There's Cate Blanchett, but I'll be damned if her character is any more interesting than a passing curiosity. Eric Bana is pretty much a stock background character with little to distinguish him from any number of other, similar characters. Tom Hollander is pretty interesting at first, but by his last scene he's mostly just annoying and creepy.

There is this family that Hanna meets on her travels that is basically eccentric. The daughter is completely wacky and has a bunch of really weird, funny lines, and the family in general basically keeps the movie grounded, providing a framework of contrast to measure Hanna against, and also giving her a tenuous link to the outside world. This is the potential the movie had right here – it could have been a good story about a fish-out-of-water on a dangerous mission becoming more and more ‘human’ by interacting with these people. There is one scene where Hanna and the daughter pick up some guys and go hang out at this festival thing, or something, and Hanna and the guy almost kiss. But she flips him over and almost attacks him, which is a fitting metaphor for most of the movie – almost building up to something engaging, but pulling back before it actually happens.

The family is cut out of the picture halfway through the movie, though, and that’s about the point where the level of interest starts to dramatically decline. Sure, you get a few good action scenes, but there’s no real heart or soul to it, and the story does not remain engaging. The plot is vague and the characters are not really interesting. And even then, how am I supposed to believe that this powerhouse of a little girl would just lay down and hide while everyone around her gets killed? She’s clearly shown that she can kick some serious ass, so why are there so many scenes of her hiding and trying to evade capture? She could probably kick all of these assholes to the curb in a second! It doesn’t make any sense.

OK, so the setting is wonderful, and the atmosphere is so thick you could cut it with a knife. I like the wintry forest setting and I like the strange, alien sense that you get when Hanna is thrust into the rest of the world. You really get a sense of what it’s like through her eyes, especially in this one scene where she’s in her hotel room and gets totally overwhelmed by everything moving and making noise – that’s realistic. That’s a good scene. That’s the kind of thing the movie was going for overall, I think.

This film is not bad, but honestly, wouldn’t you hope for something more, too? From the initial set up, which was very promising, I was expecting this to evolve into an introspective and intelligent twist on action/thriller movies, but I guess that’s my mistake. Lesson learned  - don’t expect too much from anything at first. Decent but indistinct.