By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
Director Joe Wright has a pretty short, although good, resume. He’s gone from Pride and Prejudice to Atonement to the kinda meh The Soloist. With that lineup you could see a King’s Speech-style upside- acclaimed yet thoroughly conventional. However, there’s nothing to suggest a dizzying, highly original and divisive talent a la Tarantino. Well, folks, it’s in there, and Hanna damn well proves it.
The story is a twist of some familiar elements. In it an assassin/secret agent strikes out into the world to discover a hidden past and take down a shadowy nemesis, all the while having to fight off hordes of opponents in a struggle to survive. It’s just in this one, the hero is a fifteen year old girl, and it borrows more from The Brothers Grimm than Bourne.
Although the concept of a lethal teenager isn’t a huge stretch
…to the whole damn movie. Everything is meticulously planned and breath-takingly edited to the pounding, German folk music-inspired techno score by The Chemical Brothers. The whole production drips with a unique style that’s drawn comps to everything from Run, Lola, Run to A Clockwork Orange. And when I say meticulous, I mean right down to the amount of dirt shedding off a combat boot as it slams on the hood of a car.
Now that’s dedication
Every singly shot is either put in motion or used to underscore a point. Wright also has an eye for the absurd and unworldly that he uses to maximum effect.
Yeah, that’s a dinosaur. Intrigued yet?
The editing sets the perfect pace and the script has enough twists and a surprising amount of humor, but the heart and soul of the film is Saoirse Ronan’s performance as Hanna. She’s able to meld hard-edged adult competence with the wide-eyed innocence of a young girl literally encountering the world for the first time.
Her job was to make us buy into the situation part and parcel and she accomplishes it so deftly that you don’t realize the almost inevitable plot holes and leaps of faith in the storyline until much later. I’m not going to call this movie perfect, but I can’t think of anything in the genre that was so completely satisfying at first viewing.
This movie grabs you and doesn’t let go. I still have no idea what the running time is, and I’m finding myself humming the beat to Container Park days later. It’s gonna take awhile to knock this one out of the top spot of my 2011 list.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: for every extreme close-up
Take a drink: every time Hanna is confused by something
Drink a shot: every time Eric Bana does his Ahnold impersonation