bill bodkin reviews the action flick starring Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana …
Back in February, we did a Trailer Tuesday column entitled Strong Women, Strong Movies. In it, we were chomping at the big to see the latest Zach Snyder work of visual wizardry, Sucker Punch, in theaters — while we were content on waiting until Hanna came out on DVD.
We got that one wrong.
See Hanna, unlike Sucker Punch, is a movie that is full of strong women who kick ass, take names, are smart, fierce, independent and enthralling. This could be attributed to the writing, but I attribute it to the performances of the one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood (Cate Blanchett) and a young actress whose Oscar-nominated career is just beginning to blossom (Saoirse Ronan).
The two actresses are the driving force of the movie. Blanchett is perfect a femme fatale, minus the sex. She’s cold-blooded, a killer, a career-obsessed government operative/heavy who’s hellbent on bringing in and bringing down Hanna and her father (Eric Bana). And what’s brilliant about Blanchett’s performance is not the superficial performance but her brilliant subtly — her forsaking of motherhood for her career is eating away at her, it drives her to bloody violence whenever her lack of a maternal history is brought up.
As Hanna, Ronan, is perfectly cast. Not only can she deftly handle heavy dramatic storylines (as evidenced in Atonement and The Lovely Bones), but she also proves to be quite the action heroine. The physicality she brings as Hanna is unreal. Watching a teenage girl battle full-grown men with grace and blunt force trauma, all with a sense of realism, is remarkable. And like Blanchett, it’s the subtly of her performance that’s the best part. Even though her character is a superb fighter and highly intelligent, there’s still a sense of fragility, of wonder and awe. She’s thrust into the real world just as she’s entering her teens — both frightening experiences. Ronan is able to convey this combination of fright and wonder within the blink of her icy blue eyes.
From a cinematic standpoint, director Joe Wright (Atonement) creates a very Euro-centric cinematic style. This film’s style, from its psychedelic camera work down to its color palette, reminds me of the great European thrillers of the ’60s and ’70s. He deftly balances Hanna as an action film and a coming-of-age tale. Hanna could’ve easily wandered into a teenage version of The Bourne Identity or into a schmaltzy teen drama. The score by The Chemical Brothers also adds to a sense of dizzying psychedelia and suspense. Soundtracks are often throwaways these days, but it seems as though former techno dance groups are finding their niche these days (see also: Daft Punk for Tron: Legacy).
So if you’re looking for a film that has solid performances, strong female characters and high-octane thrills and action, check out Hanna.