Joe Wright teams up with the talented and unmistakably named Saoirse Ronan for the second time (the first being Atonement) in this rich and highly promising crime thriller entitled Hanna. To a large degree, the film follows in the footsteps of last year's success Kick-Ass, a film depicting an 11-year-old girl and her version of superhero vigilante justice. In Hanna, we also meet a young girl (aged 13) with special talents and a desire to right the wrongs done to her and her family. Except for the fact that the personage is inverted, the thematics is familiar stuff for most regular moviegoers, but Wright and his screenwriters David Farr and Seth Lochhead provides a refreshing new angle early on, as we meet Hanna and her father training in a wintry and remote Finnish forest where the girl seems to have lived almost her entire life. The environments are cold, the human relations mechanic, and the setup strangely fascinating.
The unknown is often a half-baked story's best friend, and that is certainly true for Hanna. Director Wright is not in a hurry to reveal the ostensible mystery or the true colours of his characters. Instead, he lets his impeccable flair take precedence, and in parts, the film is almost irresistibly seductive, with style and visuals far closer to Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange or even Danny Boyle's Trainspotting than to the aforementioned Kick-Ass. These parts are right up there with the very best from the classic British film tradition.
As I have already hinted at, however, both the fun and grandness dries up. The story simply isn't as special as the film's first half promises, and as a result, Wright resorts to a well of irksome chase sequences and simple scare tactics in his fumbling for an appropriate ending. Of course, this is more disappointing because of the high standards Hanna had set for itself, but if you show some goodwill, the film's many high points is what sticks. For instance the brilliantly written and acted subplot concerning Hanna and a wonderful, free-spirited English camping family. The performances are fine too, with Ronan and Tom Hollander (as an offbeat contract killer) standing out.