Hanna is the story of a girl raised in complete isolation with her father Erik (Eric Bana), who is training her to be the perfect killing machine. Elsewhere, ruthless CIA operative, Marissa (Cate Blanchette) is tracking Hanna and her father down, with what seems like an endless supply of agents to send after them. Erik and Hanna represent an inordinate threat to the United States, like Jason Bourne and Evelyn Salt before them no amount of money is too high to neutralize the father/daughter duo.
If the plot seems familiar, it’s because it is. The Bourne Identity, Salt and countless other action films have used it before. Part of me wonders if the big appeal of directing Hanna for Joe Wright was actively seeking to desconstruct the genre. Sure, audiences love action films – they love them a lot, take a look at the final box office numbers of any given year and at least half of the top ten will be action films – but will moviegoers still be drawn in when you swap out Matt Damon/Tom Cruise/etc. with an innocent looking blue-eyed teenage girl fresh as the new fallen snow? Wright is not the type to make mindless, shaky-cam, actioners, he is known for period pieces adapted from literature. But with Hanna he has done what Zack Snyder couldn’t: make a girl kick ass.
By taking a standard formula and turning it on its head he has done what few other directors have: make the lone man – in this case girl – against the giant bureaucracy relevant again. Hanna is ostensibly about loving gun-toting and kicking ass, but really it is about discovering your own humanity in the midst of such violence.
Both feature small girls as assassins, but where Chloe Moretz launches off into the deep end Saoirse Ronan takes it all in with her eyes and makes Hanna a true character profile. At first Hit-Girl’s ability to lay waste of men three times her size is entertaining, but soon thereafter the cartoonishness of Kick-Ass wears off quickly after the introduction of Hit-Girl and Big Daddy so Hanna wins this round.
Zack Snyder thought he made a girl power film, when really he made a nice music video. Emily Browning‘s Baby Doll knew how to handle a weapon, but she never knew how to handle herself outside of being in a man’s grasp. The sexualization of the characters rendered the feminism aspect of Sucker Punch useless. Hanna wins another match-up as Joe Wright actually made a film about a powerful girl’s rise and didn’t need a short skirt to do so.
Angelina Jolie is, inarguably, a bigger star than Saoirse Ronan, but with the exception of Salt‘s first big twist the rest of the film is pretty formulaic. Not to mention the numerous plot holes littered throughout the entire film. Hanna never crosses the realm into the fantastical and when Hanna hurts herself, she hurts herself. This isn’t Angelina Jolie jumping into helicopters without as much as an oomph. Hanna 3, other films 0.
Hanna currently sits at #241 out of 451 on my Flickchart, though I’m sure that as I rank more films that that number will end up lower. But without question, Hanna is worthy of its spot above Kick-Ass, Sucker Punch, and Salt.