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HANNA (director: Joe Wright; screenwriters: Seth Lochhead/David Farr/based on a story by Seth Lochhead; cinematographer: Alwin Küchler; editor: Paul Tothill; music: Chemical Brothers; cast:Saoirse Ronan (Hanna), Eric Bana (Erik), Cate Blanchett (Marissa Wiegler), Tom Hollander (Isaacs), Olivia Williams (Rachel), Jason Flemyng (Sebastian), Jessica Barden (Sophie); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Leslie Holleran/Marty Adelstein/Scott Nemes; Focus Features; 2011)
Though shooting to be an art film, it never rises above being a moderately diverting escapist action film.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brit filmmaker Joe Wright (“Atonement”/”Pride & Prejudice”/”The Soloist”) directs this stylistic fairy tale laden motif thriller about a deadly 16-year-old ‘wild child,’ Hanna (Saoirse Ronan, a 16-year-old), raised in isolation in northern Finland’s frigid wasteland by her widower ex-CIA father Erik (Eric Bana). Dad’s home schooling of Hanna teaches the feral girl the art of bow and arrow hunting, high-level self-defense combat and shooting skills, the ability to speak many languages, enough knowledge after memorizing the encyclopediato qualify teaching almost any subject, and to be a freakishly perfect underaged assassin. I’d say dad has raised quite a gal, just leaving out the lessons in social skills, etiquette, religion and culture.

Though shooting to be an art film, it never rises above being a moderately diverting escapist action film. It’s based on a story by Seth Lochhead, who co-writes it with David Farr.

The time is now ripe for daddy to send his sheltered but impressive warrior daughter on an impossible mission to Germany (why it’s so is never adequately explained, since no one is seriously looking for the ex-operative and his daughter for the last 16 years). On her mysterious mission Hanna’s tracked by daddy’s ruthless former intelligence agent colleague Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett). Marissa will relentlessly pursue Hanna in her attempt to capture the girl who looks like her, but doesn’t share her Southern accent. To avoid detection by the covert CIA agents, especially the sadistic Isaacs (Tom Hollander), Marissa’s favorite, Hanna attaches herself to a British family traveling on vacation through Morocco in their SUV.

There’s no real attempt to get to know ‘nature girl’ as Truffaut did his ‘Wild Child,’ as the filmmaker instead steps on the accelerator to keep it in tune with an empty fantasy action pic like Run Lola Run (Hanna even runs like Lola). The director, out to prove he can turn in a blockbuster thriller after moderate success with a period film and a literary adaptation, makes the bogus coming-of-age pic all about the exciting chase from Morocco to Spain to Berlin (where Hanna’s to meet daddy again). We’re left wondering for how long the resourceful Hanna can elude or keep taking down her efficient adult professional killer pursuers (resulting in one noteworthy well-choreographed chase across giant shipping containers, that’s unforgettable) and how she will react befriending Sophie (Jessica Barden)–the Brit teen from the SUV and the only girl her own age she ever met. And we also observe how Hanna reacts to Sophie’s daffy politically correct mom (Olivia Williams).

During the chase in Germany there are shocking secret revelations about Hanna’s existence that come to light and it’s up to Erik to level with his daughter about the secrets he shares with Marissa. It ends in a decaying amusement park (shot at the out of business Spree Park in East Berlin),where Marissa isviewed as the Big Bad Wolf when Hanna confronts her in a ‘winner take all’ game of hide and seek.

Just like Hanna suffers a social disconnect with normal people, the pic suffers a disconnect in plot credibility. The disposable pic becomes more like a video game with every move, bringing on a case of heavy-handedness in dishing out its dark fairy tale symbolism and a bad case of superficiality in going for little more than cartoonish characters and cartoonish fighting and chase scenes. At the end of the day, this muddled forgettable thriller can only offer so much in amusement ride thrills and when the ride ends there’s nothing to ponder.

The hypnotic score by the Chemical Brothers is wonderful, but it somehow stands apart from the pic as a showoff piece rather than something that easily blends into the pic. As a matter of fact everything is showy about this artificially manufactured thriller. With that being said, the pic is kept alive by the superb blank stare innocent performance by a perfectly cast Ronan (our finest child actress) and the good amoral performances by Cate (our finest adult actress) and the always reliable Bana.

REVIEWED ON 4/10/2011 GRADE: C +

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”