Hanna is decidedly not the spy thriller I was expecting, instead it is one very extended chase with story inspiration lifted directly from TV's early 2000's futuristic cult favorite Dark Angel. Mind you, it is a pulse-pounding chase - 16-year-old Hanna, a girl with enhanced abilities, must travel on her own from the arctic circle to Berlin to reunite with her father once government agents determined to apprehend them are alerted to their location. Why are they alerted? For absolutely no good reason, you simply won't believe your ears! Logic is not the strongest suit here as glaring contradictions surface about what Hanna can do and what she can't, what she understands and what she doesn't. For example, she marvels at the images and sounds emanating from a television set, but she has no trouble operating a computer.
Never mind, the thrill is in the chase and in that respect Hanna delivers with style to spare. It reminds me of the slick action from seminal European thrillers La Femme Nikita and Run Lola Run complete with creative camera angles and throbbing electronic score by the Chemical Brothers. Some terrific, carefully planned, memorable sequences: check out the lengthy single shot as Eric Bana exits a bus terminal through his encounter with agents in the underground, or Hanna eluding pursuers among cargo containers at the docks, or the break-in at Cate Blanchett's apartment. I was very impressed with Saoirse Ronan who plays Hanna, hope to see more of her in future. Can't say the same for the Great Cate's wandering southern accent, but it's fun to see her cast and convince as a villain every now & then.
Bottom line, I heartily recommend Hanna for sheer excitement. I would even be interested in a sequel since many historical points are left murky. If you feel the same and would enjoy a lengthier story with similar themes, then give the first season of Dark Angel a try on DVD, an intriguing, action-packed series which offers more fleshed-out characters and a deeper mythology.
Review addendum: Bumped the rating up from 3.5 to 4 because I found myself tuning in whenever I saw it was on IFC to relive my favorite scenes. Eventually I just bought the DVD so I can jump directly to the five expertly orchestrated sequences whenever I want. They are: the escape from Camp G, the fight & chase among loading containers at the dock, the 3:08 long (got to time it on the DVD) aforementioned tracking shot of Bana, his assault on Blanchett's apartment, and the final chase/confrontation. I still wish we were given more insight into the backstory, but it works superbly as a stylish action thriller that knows when to allow for time to breathe.
Justifiably infamous. Which means it is just as exploitative to the nth-degree as it was in 1977, a nasty, nearly unwatchable sequence of rapes leading to a warpath of bloody revenge that far exceeds anything Pam Grier dealt out. Waaaay too long to sit through the bad acting of some truly despicable (and moronic) characters.
Fits nicely into the niche of literary lovers' cinema alongside Adaptation, Wonder Boys, and to a degree I Heart Huckabees. Will Farrell is surprisingly reserved - maybe too much so! - as IRS auditor Howard Crick who hears an Englishwoman's voice describing his every action and begins to suspect that he is a character in someone else's story. During this time, he begins to fall in love with his latest auditee, anarchist baker Maggie Gyllenhaal. The question Howard wants to know, with the aid of literary lecturer Dustin Hoffman, is he in a comedy or tragedy? Emma Thompson is terrific as the sardonic, chainsmoking, reclusive author unknowingly controlling Howard's life. Original and funny, and reaches a genuinely romantic high point with Farrell playing the guitar in Gyllenhaal's apartment.
A tense opening half-hour naturally disintegrates into a trite farmhouse standoff between two brothers, an immigrant grandmother & daughter, and a supernatural Nazi scientist. If you think the suit of armor made from the bones of the German's dead ancestors that will protect the wearer against him is ridiculous, wait until you hear their plan to kill him! Lives up to the blood promised in the title but audiences should demand more substance - much more.
We know that Steve Martin is smarter than the character he plays here, a dentist who inexplicably gets involved with femme fatale Helena Bonham Carter, and that damages the believability. Their scenes together offer the best moments, while Laura Dern and an uncredited Kevin Bacon get to chew a little scenery. Problem is the tone is neither serious nor comic enough, so what we have is a rather vanilla thrilla.