Strong female lead dazzles in ‘Hanna’

by Morgan Denno

Courtesy of Alex Bailey
Courtesy of Alex Bailey

Director Joe Wright doesn’t like to be categorized by genre, which is obvious in his newest film “Hanna.” Part thriller, part action, part fairy tale … categorizing this movie is almost impossible.

Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) lives with her father Erik (Eric Bana) in a frozen and desolate forest, far removed from any trace of civilization. Raised to fight more ferociously than any soldier, Hanna is fluent in many languages, and her only knowledge of the outside world is through books and the few facts her father tells her. She insists she is ready to fulfill her mission she has been training for, though it’s obvious her father isn’t quite ready to let go of her yet. Through a series of locations and string of friendships, Hanna fights to kill her target Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), while still retaining an innocence and fascination with the modern world.

With a fantastic cast of Ronan, Bana and Blanchett, the story, full of twists and turns, remains coherent and visually dazzling. Ronan somehow manages to immerse herself in a character who is savage and untamed but still innocent and vulnerable too. Everything from her wild hair to her strong gait portrays this fascinating character as completely unlike anything audiences have ever seen. Blanchett plays the villain flawlessly as a woman obsessed with perfection and evokes a sense of almost sterile cleanliness. The various locations range from the frozen Finland to arid, bustling Morocco and to grim urban locations in Germany.

Rather than retain the typical features of action movies, lengthened handheld shots give fight scenes an entirely different feel, as the female characters boast just as much strength as the males. The soundtrack was created entirely by The Chemical Brothers and consists mostly of sound effects intricately worked within each fighting sequence.

The film contrasts how simple Hanna’s world was until she entered modern-day life. The new world of music and electricity is overwhelming and chaotic to Hanna, making the audience feel as if it’s experiencing everything for the first time too. As a physically strong female, Hanna isn’t portrayed in the sexual ways most action packed movies are known for. With her pale skin, wild flowing white-blond hair and piercing blue eyes, Hanna seems to be physically and mentally alien to her new surroundings.

“Hanna” is different from other movies that audiences have seen before. A strong female lead carries the story from one dramatically different location to the next. Hanna isn’t overly sexualized or dressed in skimpy outfits and she isn’t childlike or dependent on others. The story skips and jumps from time and place, without spoon-feeding every single detail, but the action scenes are complex and rely on actual fighting, rather than overly dramatic shootings. Though “Hanna” is unlike most other action movies out there, the film is worth seeing for its refreshing sense of originality and thrill.