In 1994 Luc Besson directed “The Professional,” a stark drama about a contract killer who befriends a preteen rebel. In that movie a young Natalie Portman wielded her gun for about fifteen seconds but the distorted image was a memorable one, and the ploy was used in other movies like “Kick Ass” and, most recently, in “Hanna,” directed by Joe Wright. Our gun-toting, gravity defying, ass-kicking heroine is a little older this time and played by Saoirse Ronan, a waiflike and lovely actress who has been making strides in Hollywood in independent and big-budget productions, alike.
Alas, “Hanna” is a room temperature-good action film which unevenly matches dramatic heft with suspense. Meet Marissa (played by Cate Blanchett), a government cadre chasing the product of an abandoned experiment (Hanna) with fury–Blanchett is dead-on in that role. Eric Bana camps the supporting role of Hanna’s father and trainer, a performance that’s passable but uninspiring, unfortunately. Hanna is the product of an experiment in human genetic modification gone awry–she’s the one that got away, which is going to complicate things for some people.
Although a feast visually speaking “Hannah” is like a meatless rib-eye steak sandwich– next to nothing is revealed about what makes Hanna tick or Marissa tick. These characters are wafer-thin in personality and therefore of no real consequence. And so life carries on in Hanna land, people die, people live, they move on–who really cares? At least, “The Professional” engaged us with two characters–a loner who becomes a father figure to a prepubescent misfit—who have an implicit lust for life. In “Hanna” we get a diminutive glance inside the life of an assassin and his trainee, shortcut to simmering violence and then slide toward an anti-climactic ending. Explosions are cool, but convincing characters and the connections that exist between them are more meaningful. “Hanna” is merely a good watered-down action movie for the PG-13 set—it could have been more.
“Hanna” features an original score by The Chemical Brothers.