Director Joe Wright helmed Atonement and The Soloist, and seems like a serious fellow, so I can’t tell if Hanna is supposed to be a joke or not.
Loud, fast and lurid, the movie follows that preternaturally old soul Saoirse Ronan as the title character, a genetically engineered super-baby soldier cut loose from an abandoned government project. Trained to hunt in the wilderness by her crazy rogue agent dad (Eric Bana) the two wear a lot of handmade furs, and read the encyclopedia by firelight.
Cate Blanchett—who clearly thinks this is all hilarious—chews every bit of scenery that isn’t nailed down as Hanna’s nemesis. Blanchett lays on the Southern accent like maple syrup, constantly brushing her teeth until her gums bleed and generally carrying on like a lunatic.
There’s not much to Hanna besides the central gimmick, and Seth Lochead and David Farr’s screenplay is depressingly short on twists. Our little sprite sets out into the big bad world to kill Cate Blanchett, and that’s pretty much the end of it. Occasionally Bana gets to kick some ass, but that’s just peripheral.
Wright, either to his credit or shame, directs this nonsense like he’s still in the arthouse. Here’s a filmmaker who never saw a steadicam shot he couldn’t stretch out for an entire reel, and Hanna is formally overwrought with crazy visual gambits, plus a score by The Chemical Brothers that will stick in your head for days.
But what’s it all about? Well that’s an excellent question. It’s all meticulously composed mayhem without a larger purpose, too glum to provide any base genre satisfactions. Despite the kicky thrills of watching tiny Ronan flatten scores of men twice her size, the movie remains incredibly dour about its own fundamental silliness. I still can’t tell if they’re all kidding. However fun to watch, Hanna ultimately goes nowhere.