Hanna Review

Sep 06, 2011 | 6:58am EDT

ALTThe initial previews of Hanna brought memories of a very dissimilar movie with a pretty similar subplot: Kick-Ass.

In that movie Nicolas Cage trained his preteen daughter to be a deadly fighter. In Hanna Eric Bana does the same for Saoirse Ronan. However  Kick-Ass was a lively (yet macabre) comic book farce and Hanna looked to be a pitch-black action film without much in the avenue of story or character. Sure they'd drag us along with questions about the girl's origin and compel us with the life-affirming dedication that the CIA Agent (Cate Blanchett) hunting Hanna has to her mission. Perhaps some interesting action but little else would this movie offer.

Thankfully my preconceptions were proved to be all wrong. Hanna was far more than an unusual twist on an action film. Although the movie does have its weaker points Hanna is above all an intriguing and beautifully shot movie. The development of Hanna as a character is sensational. She doesn't spend her screen time taking orders from her father Erik Heller and killing nameless soldiers. A good deal of the film has her learning about the modern world with which she has no actual experience. The strongest scenes in fact were the lighter ones: Hanna in her travels befriends an English family—the first people with whom she has managed to form any relationship.

All of the acting performances are impressive especially the supporting ones. The family members are hilarious but not caricatures—they're believable as a family. Tom Hollander as Isaacs the "unlicensed" assassin is creepy and horrifying but not superhuman. Even more provocative than its performances is the film's direction. You will be hard-pressed to find a more beautifully and precisely shot film. The scenes of action comedy tenderness and tension are all shot to perfectly capture the mood.

The Hanna DVD available today has a fair deal of interesting bonus features. Director Joe Wright gives humble and interesting but sometimes overly pragmatic commentary on the film and on a small featurette called "Anatomy of a Scene." In addition there are two Deleted Scenes and an Alternative Ending all worth watching if only to see Hanna's character further developed.

The movie is a delightful surprise and the DVD offers genuinely interesting bonuses that help the viewer to understand this unique complex film.

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