Friday, April 15, 2011

Hanna (2011)

     Hanna is a movie that inhabits that limbo-like state between art cinema and commercial cinema. Plot-wise it is a very straightforward espionage thriller, much in the same vein as The Bourne Identity. The execution, however, is remarkably different and original. It's kind of like a sequel to Leon if Natalie Portman's character had actually trained to become an assassin and if that sequel was directed by a more narratively driven David Lynch. (Translation: Hanna is a teenager who kicks copious amounts of ass in a world that seems to be partially based in fantasy and partially based in reality.)
     We meet Hannah in the woods in what appears to be arctic conditions. It is quickly clear that she is a stone cold killer, and that is the only life she knows. You understand that her training is nearing completion and that once it is complete she will embark on her mission and things will never be the same for her or her father again. This sets off an adventure that hops from aforementioned arctic locales to super top secret underground government facilities, with Hanna kicking ass and forgetting to even ask for names. It's your standard CIA, MI-6, (insert covert spy group here) type film, with a few twists and turns that keeps you guessing, if only momentarily. The way that the film is designed and shot, however, makes it something totally unlike these other films. Each new location feels like an entirely different fantasy world. There is a sequence that takes place in the German countryside that is very dark with very muted colors shot entirely on a handheld digital camera. A few minutes later the film is in urban Berlin with smooth tracking shots surrounded by bright colors. The opening of the film is deep in the woods with a complete lack of technology, then it is suddenly in a futuristic concrete bunker surrounded by cameras and bells and whistles. As Hanna is pursued around the world each setting presents a whole world. I can honestly say I have never seen anything quite like it.
     The acting in the film is strong throughout. The entire cast turns out great and understated performances. They really lend themselves to immersing you in the stylized worlds of the film and don't really draw specific attention away from the story. In other words, there are some great characters in the movie but none of them are as cartoony as a James Bond villain. The actors ground the fantasy tone in some sort of reality.
     Hanna is truly a movie that should be seen by everyone. It's at once an action movie, an arthouse film, a comedy, and a character study all coexisting surprisingly peacefully. If you aren't interested in either Scre4m and Rio this weekend, this is the perfect time to check out this film or Source Code. Hanna is a film that exists first and foremost as art and is something that needs to be individually interpreted. If you're someone who isn't usually into art films, or if you find them overly pretentious, then Hanna is a great way to get your feet wet in that environment. A

The Good, the Bad, and the Drexel

     I can't think of a better double feature with Hannah than Leon (or The Professional...whichever you want to call it). Gary Oldman's whacked-out, psychotic performance, followed up by a teenager unleashing death and destruction is almost too much awesome to handle in a single sitting. Luc Besson is just as experimental a director as Joe Wright is, too. Hanna kind of answers the question most people had at the end of Leon: What if Natalie Portman actually became an assassin?
     If you're looking for a bad movie with a female assassin then look no further than Angelina Jolie and Wanted. Timur Bekmonbetov showed so much promise when he unleashed the vampire epic, Nightwatch, onto the world. I couldn't wait to see what kind of insanity he would bring to a comic book movie like Wanted. There is a very big reason why he hasn't made another American film: Whipping bullets around corners seems awesome in cartoons, but when its done in live action it is utterly ridiculous. If you're into mindless action movies there are a few very cool fight scenes scattered throughout the film...but don't say I didn't warn you.
    True Romance is one of my favorite movies. It is a perfect storm. Written by Quentin Tarantino before he was anything but a video store clerk. Directed by Tony Scott before he lost his mind and his average shot length became shorter than Pauly Shore's career. Starring...well, everybody. I know I say this alot, but if you haven't seen this movie then you really really need too. A comic book nerd meets a chick, falls in love, and reality goes out the window. Hanna has this same "fantastic reality" type feel to it. It isn't based in any kind of fantasy world, but it never once feels real. It just exists on a totally different plane than everything else. Watch this movie now! (All movie currently available on DVD)



  1. Great "good bad ugly" choices! Love both Leon and True Romance. FYI: in case you aren't aware, Wanted was a GREAT comic--maybe my favorite ever. I hear the movie is completely different. I refuse to watch. I remember the commercials, though, and the Morgan Freeman character saying his group were actually a sort of clandestine bunch of good guys. In the comic, they were pure, unadulterated evil. That's a pretty big change.

  2. For me, "HANNA" was a pretentious movie with plot lines that do not make any sense. The connection between Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan lacked any real logic, as far as I was concerned. And I found myself longing for the movie to end. At least the action and Ms. Ronan's performance was first-rate.

  3. Hey Rosie
    I totally agree that the film had an air of pretentiousness to it, but I found it kind of refreshing...which is odd because that kind of thing can turn me off quickly. I like that it was a run-of-the-mill story told in a slightly ambiguous way with very bold imagery.