Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Film Review: Hanna - (2011)

Director: Joe Wright
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett
Running time: 111 minutes
Age Rating: 12A
Release date: May 6th 2011

Now lets be honest. The whole one-man army on the loose, with government agents trying to hunt them down thing is pretty old now. Countless movies have done it with varying success, but none have done it better then Hanna.

Hanna is the tale of 15 year old... Well, you know. Hanna. Living in the wilderness of Finland with her father, she's mastered hand to hand combat and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the world. It's soon revealed that her father has had past as a spy and somebody (mainly CIA agent Marissa Wiegler) wants him and Hanna captured. Hanna knows that she and her father must soon leave, to learn of the world she had been secluded from and defeat the wicked witch. Cut to Wiegler who is revealed to have a past with Hanna's father, picking up on his trail and seemingly out for blood. Cue a intense game cat and mouse and a lesson on how to make a original action thriller.

Hanna takes something we all know and adds depth to it. The main character not a masculine superman, but a young girl. Yet she's never what you'd expect, as she has to be the least physically vulnerable person within the film. What makes her interesting is her struggle to fit in with other normal people. Throughout she meets several characters who don't quite understand who she is, assuming her to be a normal girl. The most significant of these being a family, seemingly traveling the globe. Between them they represent a cross section of cultural ideologies and lifestyles. It's interesting to see how director Joe Wright presents this misfit family as a comparison to Hanna's upbringing. The film deals heavily with this theme and what childhood really means. It's really a character driven film where the performances are great, put into the model of a Hollywood action film.

The film feels very grounded and realistic. Its cold and violent, so you won't see any over the top fights or explosions. Yet it implements elements of fairy tales and fantasy throughout. This changes the feel of the film significantly. It adds a dynamic flow to the movement of characters allowing them to move freely through environments, the highlight of this being Hanna's escape from the dim and muted CIA installation. It matches the character movement with the flashes of light and beat of the soundtrack. The effect of this makes it feel like a lucid dream, as if its not quite within reality. For such simple techniques, it has a really powerful and iconic effect.

The music used in the film is really powerful. As Hanna has never heard music in her life, the soundtrack imitates this. It never really kicks in or is properly formed until Hanna becomes involved with the outside world. Its a purely electronic soundtrack (created by the Chemical Brothers) that fits with the style of the film. It comes off as a modern day fairy tale. At the same time the soundtrack adds an extra layer of energy and excitement. Chases seem faster and action seems even more brutal.

Going into Hanna, I really wasn't expecting much. A few fight scenes, a chase and a lot of men in suits looking angry and confused as to why they cant catch the run-away lead character. The film was so much more. Its a smart, tense and compelling film that does something that similar films don't. It made me care. The result of a strong and talented female lead, expert film-making techniques and stunning soundtrack has crafted a amazing film. I know a lot of people missed this film first time round, so here is your chance. Go out and see Hanna. Go see how a great action film can have substance behind it.

So yeah, it's really quite good.

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