Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Hanna" (2011) - Movie Review

It may be the zillionth time this character of bred assassin is filmed but to develop a hardcore soulless soldier will live through for next hundred years. Why does there always is a rogue agent or a director in CIA going for further clandestine questionable experiments and actions? “Hanna” though does not delve on the morality and other things that is picked up as a dragging human element in this inhuman state of merciless killing and execution. It concentrates on its stronghold. A very solid magical and surreal experience of a stronghold that lifts the film far and beyond through this ordinary tale of assassin chased around in that fated territories for the thriller director’s fetish through the European countries.

Something of similar visual tint was the under appreciated film “Push” which had a unique sense of clever screenplay with strange people in a stranger environment that got this reviewer interested. Director Joe Wright though perfected it in “Hanna”, a tale of a young girl brought up by her father in a forest living like a caveman. Eric Bana is Erik Heller and has been preparing Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) for a relentless running and endurance to last for three triathlons. She hunts, fights, swims, jumps and kills without an iota of hesitation. That makes her a potential target for Euro chasing Bourne kind of film. She is but it branches out of Matt Damon’s confused man and keeps it to the minimum. Add some complete rendition of The Chemical Brothers for the back ground score, you get one perfectly played aesthetic thriller.

The people in this film are soulless pseudo psychopaths. The kind these films rely on. They dispense human lives for their survival partly because their world has to have these damages. Hanna brought by an assassin spy agent provides that reasoning while Cate Blanchett’s Marisa is simply the “witch” Hanna has been trained to kill. Marisa outsources her work to Isaacs (Tom Hollander) and his strong sidekicks. Every one kills not with a passion but with a blank soul. If they are in the room alongside someone they will die either by them or someone who are about to kill them.

The best thing about the film is their knack for not going into explaining the character’s actions. They all act upon their survival instincts and everything else is a blur. Hanna of course becomes ready to face the world to kill her target Marisa. Erik leaves for their home while Hanna is captured as planned by the CIA. She kills the first person who calls herself as Marisa and escapes the highly secure CIA facility somewhere in Morocco. From there she goes through Spain and ends in Germany to participate in the final showdown. In between she meets a free souled family where she finds a solace in getting some taste of the real world and family.

“Hanna” is nothing but ambience. It has settings like “Alice in Wonderland” amongst the demons and angels. Her objective is defined from the birth and that is all she knows. She sees everything for the first time and experiences for first time. Her excitement and exuberance is mixed with fear and suspicion. She finds a friend in a teenage girl Sophie (Jessica Barden) and her family. Sophie’s mother (Olivia Williams) is still in the hangover of sixties going non-judging on a lonely white girl wandering in different countries while her husband (Jason Flemyng) has his doubts though does not want to be a part of it.

Saorise Ronan dedicates herself as Matt Damon did in the Bourne series with immense physical ordeal. She runs like a maniac and constantly wakes up to dangerous chases and bullets. Cate Blanchett develops an ordinary role into a complex battle of guilt, pain, angst and survival without speaking a single world. She goes to contact the past and each encounter puts a struggle into her heart on the personal opportunities she did not take and the mistakes she has to cover with blood. She is in every way the grown up Hanna and is fascinated by that.

I will not go into the mumbo jumbo of plot reasoning of why Hanna is stronger and without fear. All those are silly details that sets up this beautiful script for some excellent chases with thumping soulful sounds from The Chemical Brothers. I am not a great fan of electronica but as it does in Bourne series, it works the cardio rhythm with a synchronized love. The chase especially through the containers is something that sticks with you.

Stunt as choreography in musicals is an art. To set up those sequences in a format which promotes the energy and a mystical emotion of the characters is a task that gets overlooked in many films. Here there are several and promptly used. Take the combat sequence Erik does with the agents in the underground station where it appears to be a single shot with some high pumping killing. It keeps you gasping for breath and leaves you with a great experience.

“Hanna” begins with a slow note and ends on a ridiculously high note. Tom Hollander’s Isaacs with bleached blonde hair is creepy, scary and funny. While I mentioned the feeling of “Alice in Wonderland”, it is indeed a real world fairy tale homage to it with punches, bullets and blood. It brings out Hanna in the most honest fashion not to be funny but to be genuine. She is asked about her mother by Sophie’s dad and she says she passed away. For the question of how, she replies without any mockery or self aware as “three bullets”. Saoirse Ronan is thorough in her acting with a discipline and Joe Wright brings out a sort of ingenuity where these kind of films does not even fathom of presenting. “Hanna” is artistic, surrealistic, metaphorical and keeps your heart beating like a thorough workout.

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