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Hanna - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: A-
Editing: B+
Music: B+

Saoirse Ronan has come a ways from her breakout role in 2007's Atonement. There, she was the meddlesome 13-year-old in a serious British period drama; hardly more than three short years later, she's a 16-year-old action heroine in Hanna. And she's delightful in it.

Hanna, in fact, is part action movie, part mystery-thriller. Who is Hanna, exactly, and why has she lived her entire life with her father in the middle of the snow-covered woods? Director Joe Wright, who also directed Ronan in Atonement, is guarded with his clues, doling them out at only key moments -- usually allowing us to put pieces together only when Hanna has managed to do so herself.

At first, it's just Hanna and her father, Erik (Eric Bana), in the woods. In sequences that could easily have been sucked into a downward spiral of cliche and hokum but somehow manage not to, young Hanna is demonstrating her physical prowess to her father. "I'm ready," she keeps saying. Ready for what?

Apparently she's ready for one Marissa Viegler to come and find her, a process which begins as soon as Hanna takes the initiative of flipping the switch on a honing signal. Cate Blanchett gives Viegler an entertainingly uncomfortable nuance, as it is some time before we know for sure whether or not she is a villain -- even though she's always got a villainous twinkle in her eye. You just know there's some kind of twist coming, and Viegler is perhaps not quite what she seems. Or is she? Few people could play this part quite like Blanchett does, and she effortlessly proves herself perfectly cast in the role.

But her role is a supporting one, and Bana's, in the end, almost seems even more so. The whole movie revolves around Hanna, and therefore Ronan, who is up to the task. The writing is not always at its best -- Hanna marvels at seeing electricity for the first time, yet navigates cities like it's second nature -- but with the story propelling forward at such a steady clip, it's hard to care.

Hanna also has some refreshingly fresh takes on the details. For a fair amount of the story, Hanna is sort of hitchhiking with a British family driving the European countryside in a van. Jessica Barden, as the teenage daughter in the family, deserves special mention; she somehow infuses teen insolence with undeniable charm.

Hanna herself is on the run from Viegler, and her team of spy-ish underlings -- pretty much all of whom, predictably, are no match for either Hanna or Erik. Erik, incidentally, has separated from his daughter and planned a rendezvous at a Grimm's Fairy Tales theme park, and this course of action doesn't quite make sense on his part. But it does provide for Hanna's opportunity to demonstrate her skill with both guns and fists. Wright actually offers these action sequences sparingly, which simply ups the thrill of watching them once they happen.

Otherwise, once Hanna escapes the facility she's first brought to from the woods and then gets chased all over Europe, the focus is on her trying to figure out what this file on her she found means -- which contain the words "DNA" and "abnormal" on it. I won't spoil the surprise here, but will reassure skeptics that it's actually not quite as corny as those two words suggest.

And that is really the crux of Hanna: it's not exactly highbrow stuff, but it's a lot smarter than you'd expect, and entertains accordingly.

Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan catch up to the mystery of 'Hanna'.

Overall: B+
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