Hanna (2011) – Joe Wright

What a strange little thriller is Hanna, about a teenage girl raised in the arctic forest by her father to be the perfect soldier and then eventually being forced to use all her training. That plot is standard enough, I suppose, but director Joe Wright populates his story with such strange people and places that it takes on a level of fantasy. We have, of course, Hanna herself (Saoirse Ronan), who is unfamiliar with every aspect of the modern world outside of hunting, guns or linguistics. Actually, she’s unfamiliar with the ancient world as well as, at one point, she is stumped by use of the word “God.” We have Marissa (Cate Blanchett), the intelligence agent who originated the project from which Hanna emerged (more on that in a moment), a sort of southern Patrick Bateman who hates children and flosses brutally. We have a British family on holiday that encounters Hanna in Morocco, innocents, led by a liberal earth-mother, a sheepish spineless father and a daughter resisting her parent’s attempts to enlighten her. Some very funny moments in the film occur between Hanna, who for all intents and purposes is an alien, and this most strange clan. There’s the German assassin who wears track suits and, like the child killer in (1931), whistles constantly but instead of the Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King (which does make an unrelated appearance on the soundtrack) he has the tune to one of the routines in his sleazy sex show joint stuck in his head. We have a final showdown in a graveyard for giant synthetic dinosaurs and clown’s heads in a burned out Berlin that looks as if the wall fell yesterday. This is a bizarre movie indeed.

Unfortunately, it’s undone by its big reveal that Hanna, who has been hunted and is searching for her father (Eric Bana), finds out that he’s not her father at all and that she was engineered by science to be a perfect killing machine. Never mind that Bana raised her as his own in that dark arctic cottage for fourteen years or so, Hanna finds out she’s adopted and she falls apart. Because I see a lot of movies and because parental legitimacy is a common plot I have asked myself how I would react if someone came to me and said that my parents were not my real parents. I think I would be fine with this. They raised me, that seems to be more of a bond than dna, of course, I can’t say for sure, but I would think that Hanna who has been trained since birth to be on her toes “even when [she’s] asleep” in the woods with no outside contact would be more shocked that computers and airplanes exist. Just the same, this is a fine thriller with some good visuals and a tremendous score by the Chemical Brothers and it does something I love in thrillers; takes the time to introduce many characters and introduce them well.

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