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Hanna assassinated by faulty plot

By Dure-Ajam Ahmad
posted April 20, 2011

Assassins generally conjure images of men, typically in their 20’s or 30’s. A new spin on the assassin is introduced by director Joe Wright (The Soloist) and his newest film Hanna, exploring the idea of an outwardly innocent looking girl raised as an assassin by her ex-CIA father. While succeeding at the action level, Hanna leaves audience members scratching their heads at the incoherent complexity of the plot, with little to no explanation.

The movie opens with Hanna (Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones) involved in a riveting chase scene with a deer through the woods. While gutting her catch, Hanna is then forced into an intense training sequence as her father, Erik (Eric Bana, Star Trek), sneaks up on her. The pair lead a sort of hibernation lifestyle in the rugged outskirts of Finland. The audience learns early on that Hanna has been training her whole life by learning multiple languages, memorizing the encyclopedia, and learning to be constantly vigilant even while sleeping. Hanna’s training has been for some unknown goal, when it is decided one day that she is ready. The following day her father shows her a transmitter device that, once activated, will reveal their whereabouts. A couple days later Hanna does so, informing CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) of their location.

As Hanna and Erik’s plan unfolds, she is kidnapped by Marissa, who has apparently been looking for Erik because he is a threat to national security. Hanna escapes from the holding facility and climbs out of a hole in the middle of the Moroccan desert. Experiencing the real world for the first time, she is immediately overwhelmed by all of it, so she decides to tag along with an eccentric British family on their road trip in order to meet her father at their pre-planned rendezvous point in Berlin. She is abruptly forced to leave the family when she realizes her current situation is putting them in harm’s way. Hanna is then in a race against time to find her father, and find answers about her childhood.

At just 17, Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan has already racked up an impressive resume, signing on for diverse and challenging roles, each time expanding her talent and revealing an entirely new side to the audience. Hanna is no exception, as she portrays the otherwise oxymoronic combination of a hard-hearted assassin and innocent teenage girl experiencing the world for the first time. Her chilling and intriguing performance enthralls the audience with her mysterious, strong-yet-silent type demeanor.

Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett once again rewards the audience and critics with a stellar performance. However, the inconsistency in her accent was quite distracting. Her accent was nowhere near rock-solid, which not only discredited her believability, but created a nuisance for the intuitive movie-goer. Wiegler was supposed to have a deep Southern accent, but at times Blanchett would revert to her native Australian, then suddenly remember how she was supposed to sound.

The film is quite difficult to follow at times. There are three different story lines going on simultaneously—Erik’s expedition, Hanna’s getaway, and Wiegler’s hunt—without any visible transitions. The film suddenly switches to a different story, each so complex that it is difficult to keep everything straight, especially with sudden underdeveloped twists that are randomly thrown in.

Another failure of Hanna is the visual effects, which can become overwhelming at times. One scene in particular, containing constant strobe-light-like flashing and rotating images coupled with bass-fueled music in the background, seems almost comical. Nevertheless, the fight scenes are the strongest aspect of the movie. They are plentiful, visually appealing, and serve as a perfect way for the audience to understand the superhuman fierceness of Hanna.

Wright’s first foray into the action-genre seems to focus all attention on the action, with little to no story. While a great idea, the confusing and incomplete plot leaves much to be desired.

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