Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett
Directed by: Joe Wright
Written by: Seth Lochhead, David Farr
Runtime: 111 min
Release Date: 9/6/2011 (Blu-Ray)
HTS Overall Score:92
Hanna (Ronan) is a young teenage girl who lives in the forest of northern Finland. Hanna spends her days hunting and being trained by her father Erik (Bana) in hand to hand combat and with weapons. Hanna possesses uncanny strength, often surprising or even besting her father. Erik constantly surprises and sneaks up on Hanna, not even allowing her to sleep peacefully as he trains her to be constantly vigilant. Hanna is the perfect assassin, and as she begins to grow tired of the training with her father she tells him she is ready for the mission she has spent her life preparing for. Hanna must find and assassinate Marissa Wiegler, a CIA handler who used to work with Erik.
Erik activates a distress beacon and disappears, allowing Hanna to be brought in by special forces. What the CIA soldiers do not know, is that Hanna has planned this all along. Hanna executes a decoy who pretends to be Marissa Wiegler, and escapes - beginning a journey that will take her across Europe to reunite with her father as she tries to stay a step ahead of Wiegler's agents. As Hanna journeys she learns startling things about herself, her father, and who she really is that cause her to question her own humanity.
Hanna is unlike almost anything out there stylistically speaking, it alternates between frenetic action, peaceful dialogue, and rapt suspense. Hanna is a mesmerizing and gripping film that is caught halfway between our world and the world of fairy tales as told by the Brothers Grimm. Ronan's performance is exemplary and truly impresses for an actress so young. This is a very unusual film told with an unconventional style of storytelling, but I found it superbly enjoyable and utterly engrossing.
This is certainly a love it or hate it film; as Wright takes the viewer on a mind bending journey alongside Hanna one can't help but be either mesmerized or disappointed. Before you make up your mind, I would advise a second or even third viewing - as the peculiar but subtle world within a world becomes clear. Suddenly, at some point the characters that Hanna encounters are not simply people anymore - they are representations of the fairy creatures conceived by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. Hanna is the fairy princess and Cinderella, Wiegler the evil stepmother and wicked witch, Erik the hapless father or king and Isaacs the evil henchman; each character in this film seems to mirror an archetype from classical literature and European fairy tales. Whatever your verdict after giving this film a viewing, I hope you will agree that at its core this is a film with a heart. A film that investigates what it means to be human, and what that humanity is worth. Love it or hate it, Hanna is certainly worth watching, perhaps for the questions it evokes alone.
Hanna comes to Blu-Ray with a beautiful 1080p AVC encode that is almost as stylistically malleable as the film itself. What begins in the monotonic world of snow and forest soon becomes desert sand dunes, cityscapes and shipyards. Hanna isn't a demo quality film that focuses on ultra-sharp Battle: LA-esque detail, but it is a gorgeous transfer full of excellent detail, color saturation and shadow delineation. Blacks are consistently inky without any crush though some scenes suffer from excessive contrast - though this appears to be stylistic in nature. No visual artifacts are present in this transfer that warrant mentioning, resulting in an overall picture that is consistent and extremely enjoyable though still short of reference.
The DTS-HD Master Audio mix that accompanies Hanna is a marvel - powerful, dynamic, authoritative and utterly engrossing. From the first second until the credits roll there is nothing sub par about this mix, whether it's the deep and full bodied LFE content, the strange and marvelous Chemical Brothers score, or crisp dialogue. Surround content in Hanna is plentiful and extremely well designed, with spatial queues and atmospherics being precisely localized yet not distracting. Immersion and impact are both incredible in this mix - with a dynamic range this is extremely impressive. Dialogue never gets lost in the action, and likewise action is as convincing and in your face as it can be without overwhelming other elements. This is a superbly mixed release that is a must-hear for all the audio nuts out there. Reference.
Though I would have loved to see more material here, Hanna is compelling enough on its own to merit a purchase despite a relatively weak assortment of extra content. Keep in mind that Extra content in particular is a moving target - each time a film comes out that dwarfs the last in terms of Extras, the bar is set higher for the next release. Many films released today would have 5 stars two years ago, and only two and a half today.
- Audio Commentary: Director Joe Wright delivers an excellent and informative commentary that gives great insight into his thought process, the casting, and how the film was put together.
- Adapt or Die [HD]: A featurette featuring director Joe Wright, Saoirse Ronan and Eric Bana as they discuss combat training, action scenes and much more in this 13 minute clip.
- Central Intelligence Allegory [HD]: Cast and crew discuss the fantasy elements of the story and how symbols play into the narrative.
- Chemical Reaction [HD]: Wright talks about why he chose the Chemical Brothers and other elements of how the score came about.
- Anatomy of a Scene: The Escape from Camp G [HD]: A very short look at how a scene is built from story board to construction and finally shooting.
- Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending [HD]: The alternate ending isn't bad, but it's the only real change in this 5 minute feature.
- The Wide World of Hanna [HD]: A fairly pointless two minute feature.
- BD-Live and News Ticker
- My Scenes Bookmarking
Hanna is a great film for many reasons, first and foremost of these being that it is original. In an era of reboots, relaunches and recycled ideas Hanna is a refreshing take on the assassin/action genre, and also a unique integration of fairy tale lore into a live action film similar to Pan's Labyrinth. While some viewers are sure to be turned off by the fact that this is a film that requires you to think, playing along is not without its rewards. The storytelling in Hanna is superb, as are the performances given by the cast. While Hanna isn't popcorn entertainment at its core, it does challenge Hollywood conventions and respect the viewer enough to demand a degree of attention and analysis. Whatever notions I may have given you of the film in my review, I strongly encourage you to give it a watch, if only to see that once in a while a movie does come out that isn't a knock off or a cheap grab at revenue. Hanna might be polarizing and it might be a little twisted in its form of storytelling, but perhaps it's all this that makes Hanna a great movie. Highly Recommended.