I’ve never been the biggest fan of director Joe Wright. I never saw Pride & Prejudice. I thought Atonement was not nearly as great as everyone told me it was supposed to be and I wrote The Soloist off as pathetic Oscar-bait. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to give the guy a chance. There certainly were parts of Atonement that were interesting, especially the infamous tracking shot on the beaches of Dunkirk. My roommates and I recently had a chance to take on Wright’s latest, Hanna, in an empty theater. Did his new action picture have what it takes to finally win me over? I think the answer is obvious, since you’ve already seen my star rating, but humor me anyway.
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a little girl who has spent her whole life living in the icy wilderness with her father (Eric Bana), the only other person she has ever known. All she knows about the real world is what she has heard from an encyclopedia. She has been trained in a variety of martial arts, foreign languages and survival strategies. When the time comes, she will enter society for the first time. Her mission: kill corrupt CIA agent Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett).
Saoirse Ronan continues to prove herself a talent young actress, nailing this complex role. Hanna speaks in numerous languages and accents, has to be extremely tough sometimes, extremely vulnerable other times and always thinking a lot more than she says. Blanchett speaks with a hilarious, villainous American accent that maybe someday, after decades of research, science will be able to explain. Bana is basically just playing the same part he’s played his whole career, which I can’t fault him for doing. The whole supporting cast is great, I found myself really not liking the other villains and being thoroughly amused by the innocent bystanders Hanna runs into.
But Hanna is a great film because of its style. Part of the credit has to go to the Chemical Brothers’ pulsating score. We were all whistling the theme when we left the theater. Wright’s camera does a lot of interesting things – there is another long tracking shot that’s pretty cool – and the film’s kinetic editing style actually works, unlike other shaky action pictures of late, like Quantum of Solace. The movie just seems really cool most of the time, shifting to more intimate and dreamlike moods when necessary. Hanna‘s a really effectively made picture.
So you win, Joe Wright. I like one of your movies. In fact, I really liked it. Now just don’t let me down with your next project. What’s that? Your next project is a live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. That’s… um… wow. OK then. Well, at least Hanna was good.