Hanna – Wright or Wrong?

April 21, 2011

I’ve only seen two Joe Wright movies. This and Atonement. I was not a fan of Atonement. I thought the ending was b.s. (don’t care if that’s how the book ended), and I don’t care what other people think, but that long take on the beach felt like showboating to me. Why haven’t I seen The Soloist (people say it’s not bad)? I’m not interested in another “true story” where a white person tries to help out a minority (it reeks of award baiting). I despise when Hollywood takes a true story, and turns it into a “based on a true story,” in which they jettison the actual story and make everything up because it “better serves the drama.” Note to Hollwood hacks; making what actually happened interesting is the challenge, and the mark of true talent (are you’re ears burning Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman for that bullshit you pulled on A Beautiful Mind?). And as far as Pride and Prejudice goes, I need to see another Jane Austen adaptation like I need infected Piles. There ARE other writers out there besides Austen, Shakespere and the Brontë sisters. I view some of these adaptations like I view sequels; it’s easy money because of a built in audience. If you’re going to adapt these folks again, do something original with it. I ain’t saying all these adaptations are bad, and I will see good ones, I just won’t go out of my way to see them. I’d rather see something original, like Tony Manero or Dogtooth than ANOTHER adaptation of Hamlet.

Back to Hanna. An excess of style doesn’t mean you have any style. Joe copies other directors and switches between styles when he’s not sure how to keep the pace interesting (Danny Boyle’s crappy over-the-top editing. Paul Greengrass’s seizure-cam (not tons of it, thank Christ). David Lynch weirdness (he actually has a guy dancing with a light)). The score by the Chemical Brothers also seemed out of place and incongruous to what was happening. It’s like Joe was thinking “Fincher uses groovy techno music, and it’s cool.” Yeah, well it works in Fincher’s movies, and it doesn’t here.

Our story opens in a frozen wasteland where sweet little Saoirse Ronan is stalking some wild game. As she hides behind a tree the critter swipes in front of the camera and what I thought would happen, did; Saoirse disappears (ooooo, she’s stealthy). We come to learn that Hanna’s daddy is the Incredible Hulk and he’s training her to be a killing machine (or in the Michigan Militia). They’re hiding out from an evil super secret government agency (cuz really, what other kinds are there?), and in particular, they’re hiding from Dana Scully. Ya see, Hanna isn’t a regular killing machine. She’s a super special secret covert op program killing machine (who wants to experience music (with a hint of sapphic taboo not too subtly thrown in)).

I don’t mind movies about super killing machines, or even kids being killing machines (I enjoyed Battle Royale). If you’ve seen Luc Besson’s cut of The Professional (his version is called Leon), you actually see sweet little Natalie Portman learning to kill. But Hanna annoyed me from the start. I was predicting every big shock up to the final smash cut to the title card. That just doesn’t make for a fun movie going experience. Sure, I probably went in expecting not to like it since I’m not high on Joe Wright, so perhaps I’ll give it another chance in the future. But while watching I couldn’t help but fixate on all the style choices I kept being subjected to. They did not feel organic to the piece. It was more like Joe was sitting with his editor and just screwing around saying:

Dude, do a bunch of that flashy editing Danny Boyle’s editors do, cuz that shit gets you awards.

Then again, Joe did have all those pointless strobes going off while Hanna was trying to escape the base, so he may have already had the editing style in mind. He probably told his D.P.:

Dude, remember all those strobes in Alien? They were totally boss. And if we got lights goin’ off all over the place we could totally do some Danny Boyle action, cuz that shit gets you awards.

And guess what? Joe does another long take in this one (SPOILER). When Uncle Chop Chop realizes he’s being followed by government guys we follow him down the street, down some stairs into some underground thing, where he proceeds to kick their asses in a very poorly choreographed fight scene. There was one moment when Eric Bana is blocking someone with his arm, and moves so slow you could almost hear the stunt coordinator offsreen counting off each movement so the actor, stunt men and steadicam operator knew which positions to be in. It took me right out. Don’t sacrifice momentum Joe, just so you can turn to your mum and say:

Dude, I totally got that in one take. That shit gets you awards.

Ok, maaayyybeee I’m being a little tough on Joe and not being totally fair, but the movie started annoying me from the start because it didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. Most of the actors were fine. I haven’t seen enough of Saoirse Ronan to form an opinion (she was fine in Atonement, just didn’t like the movie, and Lovely Bones was absolute shit). Eric Bana continues to get thankless roles when I know he could totally kick ass.

Cate Blanchett does another bad American accent. I usually don’t mind Cate in non-American roles, but I recently heard a critic from The Guardian, Xan Brooks, describe her acting as “mannered.” I would not disagree.



Hanna hangs out with a traveling British family, whose mum and Dad (Olivia Williams & Jason Flemyng) seem to have conflicting parenting ideas. Jason seems concerned that Hanna is traveling alone but Olivia is totally fine with Hanna being allowed her freedom. Yeah, that’s just not what I would call good parenting, and Child Protective Services may need to monitor this lady. Then there’s the little moppets, Jessica Barden (I last saw her in Stephen Frears Tamara Drewe), and newcomer Aldo Maland.

The most bizarre acting choice goes to Tom Hollander, who was channeling a Big Lebowski nihilist. He just didn’t fit (his bad dye job didn’t fit either. There are blond German actors, Joe). Teddy Ruxpin is creepier than Tom Hollander.

Now with all this information I just dumped on you, are you still wondering if I recommend it? Well, if you’re bored, and you can get to an early bird showing, you could do much worse. But you could also do better.

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