Friday, May 13, 2011

Film Yap: Hanna

Having a female action hero does not mean everyone has to start writing essays on what it means for the gender and pondering whether it is a feminist movement. Sometimes it can just be a good story. Hanna is an incredibly fun action movie filled with quirks and style that lets it stand on its own.

Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Way Back) stars at the titular hero who was raised in isolation by her father Erik (Eric Bana). All of her life he has taught her to fight and survive. They are hiding from a corrupt CIA agent played by Cate Blanchett with a questionable southern accent. Once they are found out, the chase is on for Hanna and Erik to kill their enemies and run towards freedom.

Along the way, Hanna hides out with a new-wave family who are on vacation. Here Hanna finds her first friend and an unlikely introduction to the world. Ronan is such an amazing actor she avoids any clich├ęs of bewilderment. The comic relief of the film comes from Hanna’s social disconnect. More of it reigns true because the style of the film is this bizarre worldview. The assassin hired to find Hanna is played by Tom Hollander (In the Loop, Pirates of the Caribbean sequels). He’s not just any assassin; he’s this very blonde weirdo who whistles and has an affair with a hermaphrodite.

Director Joe Wright balances the action and oddness with a delicate camera. In all of his films he’s always been professional and never let the style overlap the story. He does shots that draw attention to themselves by they add the emotion of the moment. That works especially well for action because it’s not the heavily edited style of Jason Bourne or Batman. Instead, it’s more about the fight choreography and cleverness. It’s more exciting to see all of the punches and knife swings instead of being confused in the madness.

The only element out of place in the movie is Blanchett’s performance. She fits the look of someone who is not entirely put together under the surface, but she plays up the elements too broadly. Ronan is the one who really shines in the movie because she’s so different in every role and brings humanity to the action star by always having everything be about the character’s dreams.

Thanks to this film being its own voice, I would love to see a sequel to this movie. It’s the kind of movie that doesn’t need a huge budget to be successful, because it keeps the action and characters grounded to great success.

4.5 Yaps

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