Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Film Review | Hanna

Run Hanna Run

by Thomas Delapa

Once upon a time in an icy northern land, there was a little girl named Hanna, endowed with magical superhuman powers. Though she loved her father, Hanna couldn’t wait to grow up ... and start kicking ass.

A fairly appalling modern fairy tale, Hanna begins with the Brothers Grimm and ends in a grim, grungy post-humanism. Take a mishmash of Run Lola Run, The Terminator and Spy Kids, and upload with fashionable Y2K brutality, and—hocus-pocus—you’ll have director Joe Wright’s bastard Frankenstein creation.

Helen Reddy has nothing on Hanna (Saoirse Ronan), an ethereal 16-year-old whose wide-eyed robotic demeanor hides a hair-trigger urge to kill. When we first find her in the Finland tundra, she’s slaying a deer with bow and arrow. Yes, kimo sabe, her dad (Eric Bana) has trained her well. Her mission, which she has no trouble accepting, is to track down and knock off Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), a nasty CIA operative with a Southern drawl and a fetish for chic shoes.

Even if Wiegler is a wicked witch of the West, this is no Cinderella story. But it’s not a stretch to see Hanna as a blond Red Riding Hood, kicking and shooting her away through Europe and Morocco, while eluding a pack of German nihilists. This all might have been fun had Wright (Atonement) and his screenwriters dodged a terminally hip violence that recycles the pulpy premise into flashy trash.

You can imagine Hanna as the virginal Aryan flip-side to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Himmler himself couldn’t dream up a more uber-perfect Hitler youth than Ronan’s Hanna, whose fanatical devotion to her father(land) results in a trail of broken limbs and dead bodies. When she’s not busting heads, Hanna tags along with a cheeky Australian girl (Jessica Barden) and her family.

As wispy as Hanna’s tousled hair, Wright’s back story comes in fits and starts, and only serves to prime the pump in the high-octane, techno-fueled action. Despite a handful of fanciful locations—like an outdoor Berlin museum of decrepit dinosaurs—Wright’s sense of action doesn’t evolve much beyond his prehistoric slo-mo fight scenes.

In an archly stylized movie that coldly combines the unreal with the ludicrous, Wright does what heretofore seemed an impossible mission: He coaxes a crummy performance out of Blanchett, one of the screen’s best actresses. The only thing that stands out in Blanchett’s flat, walk-on villainy is her nice set of legs.


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