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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Saoirse Ronan
Eric Bana
Cate Blanchett
Tom Hollander.
Directors
Joe Wright.
Screenwriters
Seth Lochhead
David Farr.
Running Time
111 minutes

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Hanna
And her blisters


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Plot
Hanna (Ronan) is a very special girl. Conditioned to be a crack assassin by her father, she’s now on the run from the CIA in the stern form of Marissa (Blanchett), the very person who knows who or what she is.


Review
Hanna
Given he made his name with the subtle dance of manners in Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, Joe Wright’s latest film unexpectedly finds Saoirse Ronan clinging to the underside of a speeding Hummer. At 16, Hanna (Ronan) is unusual for her age, being blessed with a gift for snapping enemy necks as if twisting free the lid of a ketchup bottle while being pursued by, among others, neo-Nazi skinheads and Cate Blanchett. What, as they rarely say in Joe Wright movies, gives? Is the British director daring to reinterpret The Bourne Identity for the Justin Bieber crowd? Is this the long-awaited Very Mean Girls? And what’s with all the slumbering forests, mirrors, and evil Germans?

Hanna, an inspired alchemy of hard-nosed action and dreamlike splendour, is an intentionally strange mix of movie staples: the steely spy thriller, the coming-of-age saga, and the superhero origin story. Wright is of the mind that the squall of blockbusters, video-games and comic books surely serves as the modern fairy tale. Thus he tells a Bourne-like action movie through the rubric of a fable — Hans Christian Andersen refitted with Glocks, smart phones and satellite surveillance, the statutory arsenal of CIA malpractice. It’s a fabulous conceit: the application of storytelling rituals, old magic, to a sleek, contemporary movie machine. The familiar bluster of genre is given the gravity and poise of Wright’s house style, and a feather-light touch of mockery — Jane Austen’s In Like Flint.

Once upon a time, deep in a forest cocooned in winter, a beautiful girl called Hanna lives with her father in a candlelit cottage. By day, he trains her in hand-to-hand combat, to kill with impunity and outfox interrogation in a suite of languages. She’s a gifted pupil, an assassin with skin as white as snow and eyes as blue as sky. By night, he reads from an encyclopaedia, filling her head with fact but not feeling. As she keeps berating him, she’s ready. For what, we wonder. To go out and sample the real world, ripe with sensation and threat? Or perhaps there is a deeper, riskier path waiting for her — a mission to which she was born? Papa (a grim Eric Bana) mentions times, dates, a schedule to meet again by Wright’s mythical workshop in a Berlin still draped in the clandestine dusk of ’60s Cold War thrillers.

Transformed from tween chatterbox, Ronan is stony-faced, a luminous ghost child — Hit-Girl minus the potty mouth. There runs the suggestion that the uncannily agile Hanna might even be superheroic — a crumpled test report declares her DNA to be “ABNORMAL”. Jason Bourne wanted to know who he was; Hanna is preoccupied with a quest for what she is. Ronan adapts to all the film throws at her: the punishing physical journey and the subtle spiritual one as Hanna’s frosty inwardness gradually thaws into humour, even sweetness. In a sun-bright Morocco (these real, undigital locations feel newly discovered) she hooks up with a scatterbrained British family, touring in a clapped-out VW, warily making friends with their gabby daughter (Jessica Barden) — a scenario played largely for laughs. There is an amusing notion, as with many fairy tales, that the story is an allegory of puberty — that difficult stage of self-discovery and black ops.

Blanchett, drawling a deep, sinister Texan accent, makes an imperious wicked witch. She’s a CIA headmistress known as Marissa, given to gazing into a mirror, angrily flossing away flaws in her grimace. Hanna is the rogue outcome of some ancient agency business, and Marissa, savagely clicking her perfect heels, sets about mopping up loose ends: a dark, funny and formidable venture into movie villainy. Bond wouldn’t stand a chance.

Unbound, Hanna plunges across North Africa and Europe, from underground bases — Ken Adam dungeons wormed with air ducts — through flinty deserts and container ports, to a decayed Berlin theme park whose dead amusements are styled to The Brothers Grimm. A chase surging to the electronic spell of The Brothers Chemical further demonstrating Wright’s magical fusion of opposing textures.

In turn, the camera takes on Hanna’s unnatural attributes: its senses are alive, hyperactive and daring. This may be
only an experiment in enlightened genre making, style as subtance, but Wright thrills to the moment. An eight-minute tracking shot accompanies Bana into an orange-bricked U-bahn station to dispatch a quartet of hapless CIA drones. Tight, dreamy close-ups capture two girls giggling beneath sheets, their skin a canvas of innocence — a homage, it seems, to his very own Pride & Prejudice. Self-indulgence aside, he gives the action genre — beaten to a pulp by the battery of digital editing — a newfound vividness. Shots that breathe.

So, it is a little disheartening to hear that Wright has gravitated back to his books to adapt Anna Karenina with Keira Knightley. Not that it won’t carry all his sophistication, but just think what he could do with Transformers.


Verdict
An absurd-sounding concept rendered wholly believable and thrilling by a fearless young actress and a director at the top of his game.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hanna
Empire Star Rating

“ A movie that gets the spine tingling. A must see. Adrenaline was pumping on overdrive as I watched this movie, Hanna the young assasin is definetly ready for the test her father puts her through and could probably go for round two. Able to use her hands or weapons Hanna can beat the socks off anyone even her father, but theres something different about her watch to find out :). i rate this movie a 4. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by silence1 at 13:01, 15 June 2012 | Report This Post


“ A movie that gets the spine tingling. A must see. Adrenaline was pumping on overdrive as I watched this movie, Hanna the young assasin is definetly ready for the test her father puts her through and could probably go for round two. Able to use her hands or weapons Hanna can beat the socks off anyone even her father, but theres something different about her watch to find out :). i rate this movie a 4. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by silence1 at 13:01, 15 June 2012 | Report This Post


wham bam thank you joe

this movie kicks ass! i can't wait to see this unbelievabaly talented young actress develope all her skills! she (toghether with chloe grace moretz) gives me hope for the future of movies! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by peredebeeste at 20:50, 11 April 2012 | Report This Post


wham bam thank you joe

this movie kicks ass! i can't wait to see this unbelievabaly talented young actress develope all her skills! she (toghether with chloe grace moretz) gives me hope for the future of movies! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by peredebeeste at 20:50, 11 April 2012 | Report This Post


Close Combat Fairytale

I really enjoyed this. As soon as I twigged it's not Bourne, but a fairytale with guns, it became a fun and delicious romp. It's nice to see the world through Hanna's innocence and nievity, and Eric Bana, as always, rocks. My only gripe was Miss Blanchet's terrible American drawl. I'm sure there are plenty of American Wicked Witch wannabees waiting in the wings that could have stepped up. Maybe it's just me being over familiar with her works. Besides that, this is a very good Once Upon A Time... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danielthompson99 at 14:41, 07 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: 8 minute tracking shot, Mr Nathan ???

I watched this on Christmas day for the first time and oh boy does it not deserve 4 stars! What was Empire thinking? Its a 2 star film at best. Ronan was as good as ever but that was about it for the good points. A clunky storyline with some terrible film making made it my No.1 disappointment of the year. Certain scenes really grated with me, such as the chase down the tunnels in the underground complex, in Morroco of all places! Why on earth were there loads of flashing lights? What was thei... More

Posted by MuckyMuckMan at 15:30, 27 December 2011 | Report This Post


8 minute tracking shot, Mr Nathan ???

just watched the film (wasn't that impressed, stylish but largely nonsensical). Have to take issue with Ian Nathan who claims to have seen an "eight minute tracking shot". I timed it at three minutes... That, accompanied by Mr Nathan's overall review, leads me to think we may have been watching different films. Two stars at best, for the soundtrack and the kinetic cinematography. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by 5durham at 12:00, 23 October 2011 | Report This Post


wow!

i loved this movie and would reccomend it to anyone i enjoyed the beggining and end scene as they were connetced but i would have liked more action from Ronan :P ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by angel503 at 13:28, 04 October 2011 | Report This Post


Dull and boring

And dull... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by serious_syd at 22:55, 01 October 2011 | Report This Post


Hanna: Review

Hanna is an alright film. It had some good moments and action scenes were cool. The problems with the film is alot of scenes are just boring and not as entertaining as I wanted it to be. I would recommend this film to be a rental. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward9630 at 01:06, 25 September 2011 | Report This Post


GOOD FILM BUT COMES WITH FLAWS

Well lets just say, Hanna isn't perfect, its the story of a young girl named Hanna who has been trained by her father in the alaskan snowy forests to become a super-assassin and he soon sends her off into the world on a mission, that mission isn't very well explained, because her Papa (a grouchy eric Bana) sends her off and doesn't look back as he begins to be chased by the likes of a miscast Cate Blanchette as the villain Marrissa, and he doesn't really need to worry about the apparent bad-guy ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewisb548 at 12:32, 11 September 2011 | Report This Post


A brilliant fairytale

this is probably the most purely entertaining film of the year with an amazing soundtrack by the chemical brothers but all the praise has to go to the beautifal ronan who is electric as Hanna i can easily see her winning an oscar in the next five years ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by aamoran10 at 22:54, 02 September 2011 | Report This Post


4 star????

4 star rating i dont think so. Whilst it is true Hanna is wonderful to look at and Ronan puts in a great performance it didnt engaged me as much as Salt or the Bourne films. What did annoy a little too was Hanna warning her new best friend about the bad ppl but clearly didnt give a stuff, surley she should have finished them off in the container yard.... Rent it dont buy it ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by xxsteveo71xx at 02:13, 28 August 2011 | Report This Post


Hanna

Very good - somewhere between Bourne and Leon. I still don't understand why they bothered flicking that switch at the beginning though, seems to me a lot of the trouble they went to could have been avoided. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jkconnell at 10:24, 11 July 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Yes, its completely different from all others. ... More

Posted by nice8520 at 05:53, 29 June 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Pretty average really, seen it all before.  The fight that Bana has (near the end) seems like it's come from a different film.  Worth a watch but not worth the full price on DVD / Blu-ray IMO.  Jessica Barden is exactly the same in Tamara Drewe (a much better film.) ... More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 14:43, 28 June 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: sanchia L: OfficeSpace . What makes this film ability to become a hybrid of art house and action. he problem is it doesn't really work on either level. On a personal level I found it rather a clumsy film trying to crowbar in both perspectives in a very unsubtle manner and failing with many shots (such as the high shot focusing onto the hub of the spinning roundabout) coming across as the work of a student film maker. didn't have a problem with the editing. I though... More

Posted by OfficeSpace at 20:45, 27 June 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: OfficeSpace . What makes this film ability to become a hybrid of art house and action. he problem is it doesn't really work on either level. On a personal level I found it rather a clumsy film trying to crowbar in both perspectives in a very unsubtle manner and failing with many shots (such as the high shot focusing onto the hub of the spinning roundabout) coming across as the work of a student film maker. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 09:16, 26 June 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Okay

L: echoroom Just saw this in London. Thought it was okay. A number of scenes I felt dragged. Acting was good and stylishly directed but nothing really new to offer. A 13 year old Bourne? Methinks Mindy beat Hanna to the punch i]Hanna't was actually written before Kick-Ass the comic. Hanna is also about 16 years old. ... More

Posted by OfficeSpace at 03:00, 26 June 2011 | Report This Post


RE:

I understand that people aren't going to like it, but I honestly don't agree with others who say this is "average." It's anything but average. It's exquisite. It's f*ckin' refreshing. /i]is character driven story, so any secondary roles will be just that - secondary, so don't expect much character development. The story is 100% about Hanna and her journey. The use of fairy tales was clever. Music was great with solid acting from all cast members. Once again Ronan proves that she is one... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by OfficeSpace at 02:53, 26 June 2011 | Report This Post


Fast and intense in so good way you don't even realize how stupid it is. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ARmy2510 at 23:29, 17 June 2011 | Report This Post


Unique

Brilliant acting and interestingly filmed action make Hanna a new, cool and unique version of the revenge thrillers we're used to seeing by now. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 08:25, 07 June 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Hanna

First and foremost the impression I got from this film was that it came across very similar to a low budget 80's film from Australia. the second was that the slight plot was not really enough to sustain the film itself and as so I got the impression there was a lot of filler in there. the action scenes were few and far between which would not be an issue if enough was going on of interest in the background to maintain it and subtlety was not a word in the directors dictionary when shaping the... More

Posted by sanchia at 09:04, 20 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Hanna

Watched it yesterday. It looked marvelous, especially the earlier scenes, but there wasn't really much substance to it. It's not the slowness or general pace which bothered me, I was fully aware it wasn't an action fest before sitting down, more that it was slowly paced coupled with an overly simplistic and uninvolving story. To put it simply, I didn't really give a shit about any of the characters.l watchable though, just not quite as great as I was expecti... More

Posted by captainrentboy at 10:20, 18 May 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Bit of a let down....

I enjoyed this movie. A cerebral action thriller, perhaps even more so than the Bourne films as it moves at a more leisurely pace. Joe Wright is to be commended for not allowing it to become to bogged down with itself (though it must be said he runs it close at times). The soundtrack by the Chemical Brothers was an inspired choice, and the cinematography is lovely at times. The criticisms I have are minor - some of the action scenes are a little chaotic, one o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by superdan at 12:34, 16 May 2011 | Report This Post


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