A breathless but derivative thriller
4/6/2011In the spy thriller Hanna, Saoirse Ronan proves she would have been a fine choice to play Katniss Everdeen, the teenage hero of The Hunger Games series. The role went to the older Jennifer Lawrence ( Winter’s Bone), but Ronan ( The Lovely Bones, Atonement) displays some action-hero chops in Hanna, in which she wields a bow and arrow to hunt reindeer, shoots guns with deadly accuracy and beats up adults twice her size in hand-to-hand combat. Most important, she runs, giving director Joe Wright ( Atonement, The Soloist, Pride and Prejudice) an opportunity to crank up the electronic stylings of the Chemical Brothers on the soundtrack. The music is pretty evocative, to be sure; the movie, less so. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Hanna, which is about a teen assassin on a mission to kill an intelligence agent (a cold-eyed Cate Blanchett) named Marissa whose past intersects with hers. But the film is never more than an amalgamation of other movies. You get the feeling Wright was counting on the fact that the mere idea of a teenage assassin would be enough to generate interest, but in these post Kick-Ass days we tend to require a little more entertainment than the sight of a skinny adolescent as she breaks the necks of various villains.Of course, whether the people Hanna kills are truly villains is open to interpretation. Raised in isolation just outside the Arctic Circle by her former agent father (Eric Bana), Hanna doesn’t really ask many questions about morality. She just trains for a “mission” that she will be allowed to undergo when she deems herself “ready.” The early segments of the film are its most ridiculous, with a bearded, scruffy Bana looking like a refugee cousin of Aragorn from Lord of the Rings who took a wrong turn on the road to Mordor. He dispenses warrior wisdom and sneaks up on the kid from behind to test her reaction time and, most cruelly, won’t let her listen to music. Things pick up once the actual mission is underway, and government agents raid the Arctic Circle shack and apprehend Hanna. She promptly escapes — apparently our clandestine agencies could use a few pointers in prisoner etiquette — and leads them on a chase that lasts for the rest of the movie. The running continues to its electronic beat, and memories of Run Lola Run surface unbidden. When Hanna pauses for breath, she meets and befriends a free-spirited British family that unwittingly helps her flee the fey but deadly killer sent in pursuit (Tom Hollander with a bad bleach job). She keeps heading toward Germany — and the final confrontation with Marissa, who is clearly unconcerned about the number of bodies she leaves scattered around for the authorities to find.The motive for Hanna’s targeting of Marissa is never really a secret, and so the movie offers none of the fun, ah-ha moments provided by that better spy movie, Salt, which managed to trip up audiences even when they had a pretty good idea of what was happening. The only real question is who will win the inevitable showdown, and even that conclusion feels foregone.
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander.
Director: Joe Wright.
Screenwriters: Seth Lochhead, David Farr.
Producers: Marty Adelstein, Leslie Hollaran, Scott Nemes.
A Focus Features studios release. Running time: 105 minutes. Intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material, language. Playing at: area theaters.