Who didn’t spend their teenage years wanting to take on their dad in hand-to-hand combat? Now imagine you and Pops are both trained assassins. Welcome to the fun, pulpy Hanna, a film about a clever young woman with the mind of a mercenary and the social skills of…well, also a mercenary. While the first 20 minutes of Hanna might seem like a bad art house flick, believe me, they are a necessary precursor to the violent, campy fun this movie has in store – just soon as the protagonist gets out of the woods.
Read the rest of our re-cap below the jump – there will be spoilers, click at your own risk!
In remote Finland, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) spends her days squelching through caribou intestines and being attacked by her former intelligence agent father Erik (Eric Bana). Dad! You are embarrassing me in front of my dead caribou friends! Erik has trained his daughter since birth in the deadly arts, his focus so laser-like that he forgot to expose her to certain other crucial parts of society, like TV or hairbrushes. Luckily Papa Erik decides her training is complete, and releases Hanna onto the civilized world.
Unfortunately, at the exact same time, American agent Marissa (Cate Blanchett) is out to kill Hanna to cover up her own wrongdoing. Marissa will stop at nothing to prevent her reputation from being destroyed, and her nervousness is really doing a number on her Southern accent. Half the time Blanchett sounds like Foghorn Leghorn, the other half Queen Elizabeth. The feds are able to snag Hanna, only to have her escape their underground compound in a terrifically over-the-top escape sequence. Seriously, who planned the hallways in that building? M.C. Escher? Hanna wreaks holy hell on the place, killing a decoy Marissa and the guards, as well as shooting out the cameras. Hanna also manages to grab her medical file, which seems to indicate that it’s not just Dad’s tutelage that makes her such an excellent fighter. She then crawls up out of a sewer grate only to pop her head out and find…she’s in the middle of the Sahara desert. And you thought not having a date to homecoming was hard!
Marissa later recruits a sleazy, hermaphrodite-loving German hitman named Isaacs to take out the girl assassin. Leering in a pale yellow tracksuit, Isaacs adds another level of surreal fun to the film, cleanly lifting it from mere run-of-the-mill action movie to the fabulous albeit slightly cheesy thriller it is. Think Fifth Element plus The Bourne Identity, but switch the aliens for German killers in high-waisted acid-washed jeans. If you like the sound of that, then get thee hence to Fandango.
After hitching a ride from a quarrelsome British family driving from Morocco to Spain, Hanna is quickly exposed to all the things she’s been missing out on forever: bright sunshine, non-pelt-based clothing, dads who aren’t constantly trying to faux-murder you in your sleep. Hanna even has a chance to party with fellow teen Sophie, putting on make-up and a dress and, oh yeah, HEARING MUSIC FOR THE FIRST TIME. You couldn’t have brought a drum to the forest, Erik? A tambourine? When a cute Spanish boy tries to kiss her, Hanna reflexively almost breaks his neck. But she’s making progress - and a friend, a novel concept for a girl who typically spends Friday nights practicing her aim with a crossbow and moose antlers.
Given the sheer number of mad Germans and secret medical experiments that seem to popping up all over Europe and Northern Africa in this film, eventually you’ll start to wonder: if Erik was willing to train his daughter as an assassin while living in the Artric Circle for 10 years, why wouldn’t he just get them new passports and flee to America in the first place? More over, even if Erik decided to hide Hanna in a remote log cabin, why wouldn’t it behoove him to explain to her what the outside world was really like? “This is a ceiling fan; if you see one at a hotel, don’t have a panic attack and scare the other customers.” If you find yourself pondering these questions, you should go ahead and shift your focus back to the incredible action sequences and hilarious accents. This movie has plot holes big enough to drive a bus through, but at least Hanna dives through them with ninja-like skill and devastating cheekbones.
Hanna eventually makes it to East Berlin, which we quickly learn is a grey wonderland of broken-down fairy tale amusement parks. After some gruesome gun play, Hanna makes it to an internet café (Where she immediately know how to work a computer, despite being raised in the woods?) and Googles the little she knows about her own origins. What kind of information does Hanna find? Well, let’s just say it explains how our girl is able to throw an arrow through someone’s chest cavity without batting an eye.
By the end of the film Hanna has finally freed herself of her tormentors through a combination of sheet wit and tenacity. Of course, everyone she knows is either dead or has no way of contacting her, but with skills like Hanna’s, you can be pretty confident she’ll survive. Or become a serial killer. Either way, you’ll be rooting for her.