Friday, July 15, 2011

HANNA - New Twist to Bourne, Kick-Ass Caper

HANNA (spy thriller)
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden and Aldo Maland
Director: Joe Wright
Screenplay by Seth Lochhead and David Farr
Time: 110 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Jessica Barden and Saoirse Ronan as HANNA

PREAMBLE: Imagine a female and teenage Jason Bourne-type traipsing across North Africa and Europe you can picture Hanna as a Kick-Ass assassin played by Saoirse Ronan. However, under the direction of Joe Wright (who did Atonement and Pride & Prejudice), the movie works more like a fairy tale than a Bourne-type spy thriller.

SYNOPSIS: Hanna (Ronan) is a 16-year-old being trained for a special mission by her father Erik (Eric Bana) in the harsh, icy wilderness of Finland. When she considers herself ready to take on her destiny and the outside world, she triggers a homing beacon - and starts a cat-and-mouse chase that involves her being captured by CIA agent Marissa (Cate Blanchett) in Morocco.

After escaping from the underground CIA facility, Hanna joins British teenager Sophie (Jessica Barden) and her hippie parents (Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng) as she plans to rendezvous with her father in Berlin. In the meantime, she also has to deal with a German agent named Isaacs (Tom Hollander) who is sent by Marissa to track her down. And as she goes about her mission, she learns who she really is...

HITS & MISSES: Although there is initially a pervasive sense of disbelief over Hanna's gift for languages and physical prowess, the talented Ronan (right) gradually draws us into rooting for her character. Indeed, the better part of the story (devised by Seth Lochhead) is of Hanna discovering the joys of friendship and family as she huddles with Sophie in a tent. This, and her night out with the boys, are Hanna's 'rites of passage' - and it is fun to see how our 'Cinderella' react to her 'Prince Charming'. Gradually, we discover how she came to be closeted in the wilderness of Finland, and who she really is.

Ronan, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Atonement, is captivating as Hanna. At first, we see her Hanna as cold and calculating, as befits someone trained as a killer in a frigid wilderness. Then, as she warms up to being with friends, she starts to thaw and even starts to care for her friends. From here on, Ronan has us eating out of her hands.

Blanchett (left) and Bana are convincing too, even if their accents stray once in a while. Blanchett's Marissa represents the Bad Witch (or Evil Queen) and she plays the role with relish. The sequences are well enhanced by the thumping music score of the Chemical Brothers and the cinematography of Alwin Kuchler.

THE LOWDOWN: A refreshing twist to the Bourne legacy.


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