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Saoirse Ronan
Eric Bana
Cate Blanchett
Tom Hollander.
Joe Wright.
Seth Lochhead
David Farr.
Running Time
111 minutes

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And her blisters

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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.

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.

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

Bit of a let down....

Was looking forward to this. The pace was all over the place, way too slow in parts. Bits of weird / abstract scenes thrown in gave some scenes almost a David Lynch tinged atmosphere, and the abandoned theme park is a nice touch but honestly I thought it was a little bit of a mess generally...just watchable but nothing special.Oh, the elctro thumping soundtrack worked very well in the action scenes, synching perfectly and giving an extra dimension well done for that. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The kUrGaN at 17:09, 14 May 2011 | Report This Post

Hanna's bananas!

Excellent film! A brilliant and neat interpretation of the spy/chase genre. OK, so it comes across as a bit 'junior Bourne' but it's done so well you'll forgive it for that. Ronan is the standout giving the title character some real edge but also letting us see the innocence and bewilderment of being in a strange enovironment (she's never seen a TV before but when asked if she speaks Arabic she replies 'Of course I do'!). The other leads (Bana and Blanchett) are both excellent as well, Blanchett... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trueborndjross at 09:10, 12 May 2011 | Report This Post


Went to watch this on the strength of the Empire review. I should have known better. Average at best. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HERMES_67 at 20:51, 11 May 2011 | Report This Post

RE: ill-paced crap

Just back from seeing this film.  I really enjoyed it.  I also agree that the filmed suffered from pacing problems but I couldn't fault the acting from all involved.  The soundtrack from the Chemical Brothers was excellent, I'm still humming the tune from the container yard scene.  8/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by simonmckergan1 at 00:32, 11 May 2011 | Report This Post

RE: ill-paced crap

Saw this yesterday and really enjoyed it. The pacing was pretty messy though, it could have easily have lost the bit in the ship container yard. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 23:02, 10 May 2011 | Report This Post

RE: ill-paced crap

b] Hanna is a sixteen year old girl living out in the Finnish wilderness with her father Erik, who has been training her to be an assassin with an ultimate goal.  When Hanna says she is ready, Erik activates a homing beacon, resulting in US marines appearing and capturing Hanna.  They take her for questioning at a top secret base, whereupon she asks to see the head of the operation Marissa Wiegler.  She is presented with a double of her, whom she executes, thinki... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:33, 10 May 2011 | Report This Post

RE: ill-paced crap

Might be seeing this today, certainly plan on going this week, it is a departure for the director, and the cast are very strong, also the central idea is a good twist the fumlua, I get the impression some strands might be a bit too unbelieveable, but will go along with a open mind. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 13:57, 09 May 2011 | Report This Post

ill-paced crap

I knew nothing of this film before seeing it. I have since read a lot of 4 star reviews and I cannot understand it. There are so many things wrong with the movie. Lets start with Eric Bana training his daughter to be a killer/assassin or whatever. In all of this schooling where he teaches multiple languages and imparts vast knowledge so Hana will be 'ready' for whats to come, he fails to explain the situation to Hana so when she finds things out about her past she falls apart. Hana is looking... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TedBovis at 08:51, 09 May 2011 | Report This Post


It was good to see a different type of movie in the cinema.  There aren't that many action movies featuring teenagers in them.  However i felt that this movie was more style over substance.  The plot was too thin and there was not enough action for me.  Certain parts of it did drag on. However the lead actress was great. 3/5 for me. ... More

Posted by princessa at 15:10, 08 May 2011 | Report This Post

Quirky and different. Deserves recognition for thinking outside the box. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blindlemonpie at 00:37, 08 May 2011 | Report This Post


.......Saw this today and both me and my wife thoroughly enjoyed it,although personally i find myself being a little perturbed at the recent trend that has young women and girls as trained killers,(equality, i suppose), or am i old-fashioned.That said,the acting,music,cinematography and direction were first class.There (should),must be a sequel...... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by docksidedave at 00:12, 08 May 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Hanna

Director: ght Screenwriters: chhead, David Farr Starring: Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hallander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng Synopsis As a sixteen-year-old who’s been raised by her father (Bana), Hanna (Ronan) who is training to be the perfect assassin, is dispatched on a mission across Europe to kill the ruthless intelligence agent Marissa Wiegler (Blanchett). Review A few weeks ago, I went to see Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hoodthough I enjoyed, ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 21:31, 07 May 2011 | Report This Post


Worth it alone for the continuous shot at the bus terminal. Superb. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BillClay at 18:38, 07 May 2011 | Report This Post

Ronan is Brilliant

Excellent film my only gripe is there is one thing that I consider really important in this film that went unanswered which left me pondering. SPOILER ALERT what happened to the nice family. I would welcome a Hanna sequel. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 17:23, 07 May 2011 | Report This Post


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 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by echoroom at 14:51, 07 May 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Stylistically superb

Really enjoyed this Ronan outstanding is it me or is this the strongest batch of young female actors too come along in decades? Also this must've sailed close to being a 15cert, shocked that this & Thor both have 12A's ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 13:52, 07 May 2011 | Report This Post

Stylistically superb

The first trailer that came out for this almost made the film look like a horror, however nothing of the sort. The style of movie is all over the place in the just-right running time, but in a good way. We go from bleak sub-Arctic forest through a CIA base, Morocco (which surprises you as for all intents and purposes you think you are in Area 51 at this point) and some deliciously grim European backdrops, the French container port, the U-Bahn, the decaying theme park. The friendship Hanna forms ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by filmsunlimited at 11:39, 07 May 2011 | Report This Post

Enjoyed this

Amazing performance from Saoirse Ronan, some terrific action and a very 'Run Lola Run' vibe. My full review here: anna-review.html ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shanyi at 22:23, 06 May 2011 | Report This Post

just been to see it

yup, would agree with Empire on this one. lots of visually outstanding scenes; the Bana tracking shot is similar to the Nic Cage punch-a-thon from Kick Ass, looks awesome. the whole thing feels like an art house Leon with a thumping Chemical Bros soundtrack. Some of the Grimm references are laid on a bit thick, but minor quibble. A few familar faces round out a great cast. Ian Sommerhalder makes a brilliant bad guy. Sorry i'm no Pauline Kael of reviews, but just go see it. Hoofin' ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jamesjewell1983 at 19:24, 06 May 2011 | Report This Post

just been to see it

yup, would agree with Empire on this one. lots of visually outstanding scenes; the Bana tracking shot is similar to the Nic Cage punch-a-thon from Kick Ass, looks awesome. the whole thing feels like an art house Leon with a thumping Chemical Bros soundtrack. Some of the Grimm references are laid on a bit thick, but minor quibble. A few familar faces round out a great cast. Ian Sommerhalder makes a brilliant bad guy. Sorry i'm no Pauline Kael of reviews, but just go see it. Hoofin' ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jamesjewell1983 at 19:24, 06 May 2011 | Report This Post


How was the movie? Can anyone post a detailed review? Thanks! ... More

Posted by davestack at 16:42, 03 May 2011 | Report This Post

Yes, definitely on the must-see list. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bill Clay at 15:31, 03 May 2011 | Report This Post


wanted to see this since the first trailer..full of kinetic action scenes,startling visuals and excellent performances...and that review has whetted the appetite even more ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by darktrain at 09:05, 03 May 2011 | Report This Post

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