Hanna: Review of film starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana

2.00

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana

The teenage actor Saoirse Ronan looks right at home in the Arctic. With her startling ice-blue eyes, pale skin and fleecy white-blonde hair she's like her own camouflage unit, nearly invisible as she stalks among the snowbound woods of North Finland.

No wonder she can bring down a reindeer with her bow and arrow at 30 paces. Ronan plays Hanna, who's spent her whole life in this frosty wilderness, raised by her widowed father Erik (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA agent who went underground years ago and took his only child with him. Since then he's trained her in the gentle arts of hunting, pistol-shooting and how to snap a man's neck with her bare hands.

Despite having only each other for company, father and daughter get along fine, it seems, in their remote log cabin. He has educated her, rather austerely, from just two books, an old encyclopedia and a collection of fairytales, though she also turns out to be fluent in German, Italian, Spanish and, later, Arabic. "Think on your feet," he tells her, "even when you're asleep." Quite a tall order, that, but if anyone can do it, Hanna can. "I'm ready now," she tells him – for what, we don't yet know – and Erik realises that a teenager, even one who has lived wild with furs and longbows, needs to get out a little.

This intriguing set-up is the work of Joe Wright, a director who has exhibited a lively interest in complex, independent-minded young women. His first film Pride and Prejudice (2005) took on perhaps the most beloved embodiment of the type, while his second, Atonement (2007), went bravely in the opposite direction in terms of sympathy, focusing upon a meddlesome miss whose fantasies bring ruin to her family. This latter was also played by Ronan, who even at 13-years-old gave notice of a scarifying poise to go with that unsettling thousand-yard gaze. Wright is evidently banking on more of the same from his young star in Hanna, the difference being that he's not got Jane Austen (or Ian McEwan) for an ally this time, but a script by Seth Lochhead and David Farr. Could this be why the film, once it emerges from its Arctic fastness, breaks apart so spectacularly?

Once Hanna has been allowed to venture into the big bad world, she instantly becomes the quarry of a hard-as-nails CIA officer, Marissa Wiegler, played by Cate Blanchett in a tailored grey suit and a severe auburn bob. She could almost be auditioning for the role of "Rosa Klebb: the Early Years". Marissa wants the girl and her father eliminated, for reasons that aren't clarified until the film's last reel, though don't torment yourself with intricate psychology – the film-makers certainly haven't. In one of the film's earliest floutings of probability, Hanna is abducted in Finland, imprisoned in an underground concrete bunker, and escapes through a long tunnel into – salam! – Morocco. Even a Bond movie, the most geographically promiscuous in cinema, would throw us the occasional bone of an in-flight scene, or a plane landing. Having footslogged through the desert she has a disorienting night in a hotel room, where her rather lopsided upbringing starts to make life difficult. While Erik may have equipped her to take on Jason Bourne, he hasn't taught her a thing about music, electricity, human interaction. Thanks, dad!

Somehow she attaches herself to a couple of English pseudo-hippies (Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng) on tour in Morocco, and makes friends with their sensationally annoying daughter (Jessica Barden). And from this point the film keeps conking out, its fuel entirely derived from movie life rather than the real thing. (Lochhead wrote it when he was 24, which may account for its synthetic nature). If Blanchett's Marissa looks only half-baked from celluloid, try making sense of Tom Hollander as the world's shortest and unlikeliest hitman. Hollander's Mr Collins was one of the highlights of Wright's Pride and Prejudice, but here with his peroxide hair and German accent he looks more like a gay-porn impresario. A stop-start chase sequence develops, but it's mysterious why Hanna should be fleeing from him at all – she could beat the shit out of this squirt with one hand tied behind her. If Hanna is the innocent-but-deadly killer we have been led to suppose, then the film must back up that idea. Sadly, consistency is one of its notable victims, particularly in the matter of Hanna's Girl Who Fell to Earth status. We see her freaking out, for instance, when a telephone rings, but later she's perfectly happy downloading stuff from Google.

What baffled me more was why someone as literate as Joe Wright fancied directing this material in the first place. It looks like a script designed to test his patience more than his skill. True, he does one action sequence very well, echoing his bravura (you may argue "show-off") tracking s06052011hot during the Dunkirk arrival in Atonement. Bana, missing from the movie for long stretches, is pursued down into an underground station in Berlin where four G-men ambush him. The style of the fight, the urban location and the sense of conspiracy afoot insistently recall the Bourne movies, though Hanna falls way short of them as entertainment. Does Wright secretly want to be the next Paul Greengrass? Odd, if so, because his best work hitherto suggests a film-maker with a different, more literary voice: his own, in short. Let's hope this vague, derivative thriller is just a blip.

 



Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice