Hollywood has a slightly fetishistic relationship with young, female assassins. It’s a relationship that harks back to Natalie Portman in Leon and which exploded last year with Chloe Moretz in Kick Ass. Well, Joe Wright’s Hanna isn’t quite Hit Girl. She doesn’t revel in the violence, cuss her mouth off or flip through the air like a Power Puff girl. In other ways, however, the two could be sisters. Hanna is trained by her father in the Arctic Circle to be a ruthless killing machine, albeit one who has never seen an aeroplane.
I found the first twenty minutes to be quite slow. The landscape is beautiful and the shot selection excellent, but this was an action movie paced with the same pedestrianism as Wright’s previous films Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. Where the movie blows to life is when Hanna takes her theoretical knowledge and applies it to the real world, with one swiftly broken neck. The next sequence (a strobe light escape reminiscent of Hit Girl’s rescue of Kick Ass) is one of the most kinetic action sequences of the year and a million miles away from Keira Knightley whispering ‘Come back to me!’
The cast are universally having a good time. Saorise Ronan takes on the brunt of the action and comes up trumps but more seasoned performers like Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander also seem like they’re enjoying working for their pay cheque. At times it strays into ‘obvious’ territory with Wright showing his genre inexperience by resorting to action clichés but, for the most part, it is an exciting thriller that will leave you genuinely exhilarated. The globe-trotting heroine just about shines through the narrative web and leaves a strong impression once the credits have rolled.
Hanna’s first escape is one of the best scenes of the year so far. The rest of the film doesn’t quite live up but that’s not the end of the world. Pride and Prejudice with guns.