Joe Wright's 2011 film Hanna could have been pitched as The Bourne Identity meets Kramer vs. Kramer. It's basically about a young girl caught in the middle of a very messy divorce. The girl just also happens to be a genetically modified kung fu killing machine.
At the opening of the film, we meet Hanna (Saoirse Ronan, I promise to learn how to say that out loud someday), a teenage girl living in the Northern European wilderness with her father (Eric Bana), cut off from the civilized world. He has devoted his life to teaching her combat, hunting, survival skills, languages. You know, spy stuff. When she comes of age, and begins to wonder what the world outside their forest is like, he gives her the option to leave, though it will alert the CIA, the agency he has been hiding her from all these years, of their existence.
They split up, agree to meet up at a specified rendezvous point, and both go on the run. Hanna is soon captured by the CIA, led by the villainous Cate Blanchett, spiteful of Bana's character's defection and kidnapping of Hanna after all these years. Hanna escapes in a really cool little sequence where you see her life of training put to the test, and leads them on a chase across Europe. Along the way, she befriends an oddball family of English Bohemians and learns what it's like to be a real person.
I really thought I would like this movie better than I did. The first half hour or so, all the way through Hanna's escape from the secret CIA facility, had me locked in. From that point on, the movie kind of lost me, only pulling me back into the story once in a while. Joe Wright, best known for period dramas that I've never seen but might look into someday, such as Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, seems to be doing his best to bring a dynamic, somewhat artsy kind of visual style to the story. It's kind of reminiscent of Danny Boyle in his more hyperactive mode. Combined with a thumping score by electronic artists The Chemical Brothers, the action sequences are propulsive and as relentless and violent as a PG-13 film will allow.
Saoirse Ronan is very good as Hanna. It's fair to say she will be around in movies for some time to come. Hanna speaks English with a German accent. I wondered to myself if Hanna was ever taught German, or if she just knows English with a German accent, since she speaks to her father in English in all of their private scenes together.
Cate Blanchett, on the other hand, made what I think was a very big mistake with her character in giving her a southern accent. I don't know if it was scripted that way, or her idea, but for some reason, it seems to me like something she would bring to the table herself. It's the kind of accent that, I don't know, might pass muster outside of America, but sounds pretty bad to us. She's done decent American accents before. I guess she just really wanted to play a Texan.
Despite it's problems, Hanna had some fun sequences and a good soundtrack to keep it going. I appreciate that Joe Wright seemed to really want to give us something different, it just didn't quite get there for me.