“HANNA”, the 4th feature film of Joe Wright’s impressive career, is similar in a number of ways to its central protagonist and namesake i.e. it’s unexpected, FREAKIN INCREDIBLE! and… um… strangely attractive. Ok so maybe I’m stretching the comparison between the movie itself and its main protagonist a little far but it doesn’t change the fact that this remains, in my humble blogger opinion, easily the greatest achievement of Mr Wrights up till now stellar, but samey, career. HANNA is quite frankly pure unadulterated, often disturbing, fun. It’s clear from the opening, in which an Arctic based Hanna (Ronan) shoots a deer in the face before having a brutal fist fight with her animal skin clad father figure, that this is not going to be another awkward Victorian ankle flirting and drawing room bitch fest that some may have come to expect from Wright, director of “Atonement” and “Pride and Prejudice”.
Surprisingly enough the film focuses on Hanna, a 16 year old, multi-lingual, single minded killing machine and her unending pursuit for revenge for the death of her mother.
The film’s frenetic, asthma inducing pace is introduced at the beginning and doesn’t slow throughout somehow managing to combine an array of face meltingly awesome fight and chase montages with tender at times revelatory character development. This is helped in no small part by Ronan’s startlingly effective as well as convincing portrayal of a teenage assassin stuck between being a child and a robot like death dealer with a penchant for turning people into human kebabs.
In fact its unfair to give all the acting credit to Ronan, however great she was and however huge my nerd crush for her is, credit must go to pretty much every member of the cast each giving standout performances and all worthy of a cavalcade of unnecessarily elaborate adjectives to describe their individual character portrayals, with a personal favorite being the heroically creepy Isaacs or “Sandman” played by the ever reliable and in this case eye opening Tom Hollander, lets just say I won’t be getting much sleep tonight.
However the two greatest aspects of “HANNA” as a whole were more technically focused, these being the cinematography as well as the shot composition making nearly every shot simply look like it should be hanging in an art gallery. HANNA’s visuals truly stick in your mind long after you’ve switched off your TV and, in my case, gone foetul on the floor from sheer sensory overload. The second of these feats of technical wizardry is of course the mind blendingly, seizure inducingly glorious Chemical Brothers soundtrack helping to give each scene its setting, emotional charge and drive as well as beating half of your senses into bloody submission, causing some serious emotional numbness for sometime after viewing. Just listening to the soundtrack now I’m having to intersperse it with “The Archers” omnibus just to balance out adrenaline levels.
Despite a slightly lazily un-concluded family side story and a lack of any kind of moral amongst the continuous waves of stylized violence this is one of the most cohesive, exciting and technically dazzling thrillers I’ve seen in a very long time.
Maybe it’s the fact that my brain was turned into a puddle of Ready Brek by the relentless score but I’m feeling generous 8/10!
Written March 2012