I must admit that I had no idea what to expect from “Hanna.” Seeing as how director Joe Wright, of 2005’s “Pride and Prejudice” and 2007’s “Atonement,” is best known for literary adaptations of the aforementioned Jane Austen and Ian McEwan novels, “Hanna” was a complete departure from Regency and interwar Britain. How would a Wright film fare without Keira Knightley in a lead role?
Luckily for everyone, “Hanna” is a complete success, and is far better than Wright’s last film, the forgettable (and mercifully forgotten) “The Soloist.” This film, the story of the titular, impressively skilled teenage assassin (Saoirse Ronan), is gripping, overwhelming and incredibly entertaining.
The plot is simple: Hanna’s CIA-agent father (Eric Bana) dispatches her on a mission to kill his handler (Cate Blanchett). What transpires is fairly predictable, but no one is really at the movie for the story. “Hanna” is far more notable for its outstanding cast, the Chemical Brothers’ pulsating score and sly humor. This is definitely not just a mindless action film; “Hanna” is surprisingly sardonic and even touching at times.
The cast simply improves with the introduction of every new character. Besides the always-underrated Bana and Blanchett, Ronan proves to be an incredibly versatile actor, and she clearly has an impressive career ahead of her. Olivia Williams’ appearance is a welcome addition, as is that of the hilarious Tom Hollander as a slightly prissy assassin.
For a movie that is almost two-hours long, “Hanna” never drags. It’s always nice to see a film with a strong female lead, and Ronan more than rises to the challenge. Perhaps Wright can get Keira Knightley for any potential sequel.
Rating: 3/4 stars
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett
Director: Joe Wright
MPAA Rating: PG-13