HANNA Review

Director Joe Wright may not be one of the biggest names in filmmaking at the moment, but the guy has been doing interesting things in the field for a good six years now and with "Hanna" it feels he may begin to receive some much deserved recognition. I have been interested in his career since 2007's "Atonement" a film that brought a complex novel to the big screen with an almost flawless transition of words to image. With "Hanna" Wright sets a completely different tone for himself as a filmmaker while still retaining the same style that makes his films completely their own. "Hanna" in essence is a simple on the run from the bad guys thriller, but it is intelligent in its design, and slick in its execution. It is a film that proves even though you may have heard a story before, it is the way one expresses it that makes it new and exciting. This is a truly engaging film, a refreshing look at what dramatic action films can be, here's hoping more directors take cue's from what Wright has done here.

It was nice to see Wright re-team with Saoirse Ronan as well, the young actress who portrayed 13 year-old Briony in the aforementioned "Atonement" takes the title role here and is the main reason the film works as well as it does. Had it been any other 15 or 16 year-old actress in the part it seems the audience might have had trouble buying into the idea one so young and so fragile could do so much damage. As Hanna we see Ronan evolve from a sheltered young girl who has been raised for a single purpose to one that is able to explore and learn about the world around her from those she encounters as she tries to escape from the woman she was raised to kill. In the supporting roles, Eric Bana gets his best role in years as Hanna's father and an ex-CIA man who keeps Hanna alert as well as on a need-to-know basis only. Wright uses this technique as well, only divulging information to the audience in very limited amounts as the film moves along. We rarely know what to expect or why exactly characters do the things they do. As with Cate Blanchett's Marissa Wiegler, we are unsure as to what exactly she wants with Hanna and why she will go to such lengths to do away with her. Not giving anything away, the reasoning is somewhat of a let down, but not in a way that made me question the credibility of the film. It works, and it makes sense, but I was hoping for something more. It was the only aspect of the film that left me somewhat unsatisfied. It is what kept me from giving the film a perfect five-star rating, because even now, the more I think about the film, the more I like it.

What is so engaging about Wright's work is his ability to compose a single package from so many different elements. The musical score here is not just background noise meant to evoke the tone of the film to the ear, it is intended to heighten the fantastic images he is putting on screen. Having the Chemical Brothers, a duo mainly known for their big beat electronic dance sound scored the entire picture and they lend the movie not only great music, but a basis for what the entire film is meant to feel like. The music creates a definitive and original mood, and drives the moving images past what exactly is going on in the plot. It is this kind of innovative thinking along with stand-out performances that only enhance the film past its basic storyline. And much like his other films, Wright and his team strive to tell a story not only through the words in the script but in the way the shots are put together. We can tell this is done with the intention of not wanting to draw attention to it, the camera changes are very subtle, but as he did with the single 10-minute steady cam shot in "Atonement" he again here leaves a mark of brilliance with a one-take sequence where Eric Bana goes from walking an empty street alone to fighting off countless CIA agents. It is seemingly breathtaking and exhilarating once you realize what you are experiencing.

There are many moments like this throughout the film and that fact only brings me back to the point that Mr. Wright will only continue to grow and make bigger, better films than the already great ones he has produced. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, believing that it is solid proof of what great pieces of genre cinema can be when made by a mind that truly goes to their fullest extent in ever aspect of the movie making process. Director Wright has demonstrated that time and time again and it is now time for him to move even further up in the world of definitive filmmakers. As much as I enjoyed "Hanna" and as good a film as it is, it is just the next step in a career that is destined to turn out some of the best all-around films of this generation. "Hanna" is certainly my favorite film so far this year.

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