Film, Action and adventure
When even Kenneth Branagh is jumping on the blockbuster bandwagon, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Joe Wright – director of ‘Atonement' and 'Pride and Prejudice’ – has come up with his own multiplex-friendly Euro-thriller. What is surprising, however, is what a fantastic job he’s done of it: in contrast with Branagh’s factory-stamped studio product, ‘Thor’, ‘Hanna’ is mainstream, yet bold, risky and lovably idiosyncratic.

The plot is an unpredictable rag-bag of influences: bone-crunching action sequences straight out of the ‘Bourne’ franchise jostle with cosily bourgeois family scenes that wouldn’t look out of place in a Mike Leigh movie. Like ‘Bourne’, the landscape is post-Cold War, the mood icily Germanic, drawn from Le Carré, Wim Wenders and ‘The Day of the Jackal’. But ‘Hanna’ doesn’t centre on a rogue CIA agent or a terrorist plot: the figure at the heart of this whirlwind is a seemingly innocuous teenage girl.

Saoirse Ronan is Hanna, whose life has been spent in wintry isolation beyond the Arctic Circle, to where her father Erik (Eric Bana) fled when his cover as a spy was blown. But now Hanna wants to see the outside world, and the only way she can do that is to allow herself to be captured by Marissa (Cate Blanchett), the intelligence operative who has been hunting them all these years. Luckily, Erik’s method of education went beyond the usual home-school textbooks: Hanna may be ignorant of life beyond the forest, but she can take out a platoon of enemy soldiers without breaking a sweat.

It’s a fairly unremarkable set-up, but Wright and screenwriters Seth Lochhead and David Farr don’t let it pin them down. Once Hanna takes to the road, the film grows wonderfully unpredictable, often very funny and even strangely affecting. This kind of fish-out-of-water schtick has been done to death, but Ronan’s wide-eyed innocent routine has real charm, and most of the supporting characters – particularly Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng as granola-grazing parents trying to teach their kids about the wider world – are brilliantly sketched.

The same can’t be said of the villains: Blanchett is impressive but a little too removed, while preening psycho Isaacs (Tom Hollander) and his gang of neo-Nazi bully-boys seem to have wandered in from a far less interesting movie. The inexplicable decision to lumber both Ronan and Bana with German accents also backfires horribly.

But what’s most remarkable and gratifying about ‘Hanna’ is how well Wright directs action: while the film as a whole may be episodic and wayward, and not always in a good way, the action scenes are uniformly sharp, inventive and gripping. Anyone who found his dramatic films a touch too by-the-book may wonder if he’s now found his true calling.

By: Tom Huddleston


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday April 8 2011
Duration: 111 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Eric Bana
Tom Hollander
Olivia Williams
Cate Blanchett
Saoirse Ronan

Average User Rating

2.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:5
  • 1 star:0
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I can't believe I sat down to watch a film about 12 year old assassin. It's as stupid as it sounds. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

Plot average, movie average. Just average at best. Terrible ending. Just about watchable for the action scenes. Good Carlow actress couldn't save it though.

Awful film, "action scenes sharp, inventive and gripping" they were the same old tosh. It's so convenient when the villians don't happen to have guns as the hero doesn't get shot. Silly, silly.

This is a highly entertaining action thriller with outstanding performances of Saoirse Ronan who plays the 16yr old Hanna and Eric Bana who portrays the German ex-agent Erik. Cate Blanchett delivers a solid performance portraying the 'evil woman'. The pace of the movie is fast, accompanied by the thumping and pumping score of the Chemical Brothers, but also some nice and slow emotional moments are in the film. Anyone expecting an action film without plotholes, scientific proven facts all over or even french-style arthouse cinema should look elsewhere and leave within the first 20 minutes of the film - just like some of the previous reviewers abviously did. This movie wants to entertain and it delivers this to the point. I thoroughly enjoyed it while avoiding to question 'how or why did he/she do this?' If you would do this in almost any action film like James Bond /Bourne / Schwarzenegger and similar you would definitely lose your fun. "Hanna" is thrilling, fast, good action yet also solid acting and therefore 'fun'.

Quite frankly the worst film I've seen in years. And I went to see the last Woody Allen. The plot has more holes than a centipede's underwear and the performances from everyone bar the girl are risible. It's like trying to watch a pantomime and play Halo at the same time when you've got a migraine. Note to Eric Bana - Deadly assassins shouldn't tell everyone where they are and then go everywhere without a gun, you're asking for trouble. Note to Joe Wright - stop trying to show off, you're going to hurt yourself. A disaster of biblical proportions. Four stars? You should be ashamed of yourself.

"In the end, this film is like its heroine's strap-line,`it aims for the heart, and misses." - It is an odd and unappetising film, I think. I wonder if it lacks hear because it fudges the fate of the hippy family; they just disappear and were evidently all murdered. But it would have lost it would have been a 15 certificate presumably if it showed kids being murdered.

What saves this film with its rambling, formulaic plot which the screenwriters no doubt believe is an intellectual variation on the `Bourne Trilogy` . . .. is the direction and photography which are superb. I'm afraid JohnnyP's comments about the plot, despite the hyperbole he uses, are spot-on. Were this film to rely on its ` genetically-enhanced Supergirl tries to find her roots` theme with its rambling narrative and its lack of psychological depth, one might have had a really dull film. . . But the director , Joe Wright, pulls enough cinematic tricks out of the bag to fool the likes of Time Out's Tom Huddleston (and other arts undergraduates who want astonish the world with their insights!) into thinking this is a four-star film . . .. Admittedly there is much in the film to admire and the locations in snow-bound Northern Europe and dust-laden Morocco are wonderful. The actors do their best, but in the end despite the frenetic chases and picturesque travels, they can't get a foothold in any emotional landscape . . and there lies the problem.. In the end, this film is like its heroine's strap-line, `it aims for the heart, and misses.`

It's cinema for the noisy popcorn munchers and fulfills that purpose adequately. I went to see Saoirse Ronan's debut. she is fantastic and performs the role just right. Review is about right, but worth seeing for the soundtrack and container park scene.

I really enjoyed this film. OK, so some aspects of the plot might be a little stretched, but that's hardly the end of the world, is it. Considering that it's pure action. ... Definitely should have been rated 15 though. If I took a 10 or 12 year old to see this, I would be quite concerned.

The last paragraph of Tom Huddleston's review is pretty much spot on. The action is done very well and the soundtrack by Chemical Brothers is pumping but on the whole the story is too episodic and meandering for its own good (so much of the running time is spent with the travelling family that the ending feels tacked on). Bana is good (as always) and Ronan does well in her role too. Credibility and logic are pushed quite far and there are plot holes to find if you look for them. However, you can't really complain that a film about a 12 year old assassin is unbelievable. What did you expect? It's no more unbelievable than some of the Bond or Bourne stuff.

Heartless butchery, apparantly by gay sociopaths and their prey. For 12 year olds! A bizarre and bizarrely-horrible film. The sort of paranoid sociopathy you'd expect one of the cruder Matt Damon or Scwarzenegger films. HOWEVER, Jessica Barden is hilarious as Sophie, the child of a pair of hippies. She's a really fine comedienne already. One last query - where did the hippies' kids get their round faces from; it surely wasn't Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng. Is Eric Bana the most boring actor in the world? The opening 20 minutes in which he features is interminable.

Worst movie I've seen in ages, Ronan is sweet and pretty but as a fearless assassin is totally unconvincing, many things happen for no reason which is really annoying, the action scenes were lame and cliché. At some point I thought I was watching an episode of Skins with guns and kicks, not to mention many details that have been done before and better in other movies. I honestly can say it had been ages since I last felt I wasted my money in the cinema like I did with this movie, one thing I did like was the music but even that made me relate it to a Skins episode :-S

JohnnyP: Are you sure you haven't written that critique to put down this film and boost ratings for other films released this week? I see a lot of movies – usually two a week. Hanna is an excellent thriller. The storyline is very good. Critics in most newspapers and magazines have rated this film 3 or 4 stars, including Time Out. I notice four Time Out regular audience reviewers (Critique, Archgate, Mike, ScrumpyJack) also rate this film “highly� to “very highly� at the bottom of this page. Good try, JohnnyP, but you’ve been rumbled.

An excellent thriller. Thoroughly enjoyable. I agree with Time Out’s 4 star rating.

I agree with everything that `unconvinced filmgoer` says below. The style and atmosphere reminded me greatly of `Run Lola Run` but why DID Bana and Ronan keep on running when their combat skills were apparently superior to those of their enemies? Blanchett is outstanding and the scene in the campervan, with Bowie`s `Kooks` blasting out, will live long in the memory.

Were we watching the same film!!?. This was a disjointed, purile, piece of unbelivable rubbish. I walked out after 45 mins, 20 mins after the first people walked out, hoping it would get better. The only best bit was the music, for which I would give it one star.

Great film - a future classic I reckon. Strong performances from CB, EB, and SR; a pumping original soundtrack, striking shots and a gripping plot. Check it out.

I didn't really enjoy this odd chase movie. Its tonally all over the place, one minute a wannabe Bourne, the next minute like some abysmally unfunny brit comedy. The fairy tale motif is heavy handed and there's far too many implausible inconsistancies in the plot (hanna has never seen electricity or a TV before yet knows how to search the internet? Really?) There's quite alot of Saoirse Ronan running while the Chem Bros pound away in the background which gets a bit repetitive. Plenty of impressive action from Bana who is the only character I believed in 100%. Disappointing.

I did enjoy this film, although I found it unsatisfying, particularly the ending, which was too neat and contrived. There was a lot to like here, particularly Saoirse Ronan and the family she meets. The music was great and some scenes were brilliantly executed. But, I never really engaged with it, because there was a sense that things were happening in a contrived way, just to allow for certain aspects of the script.. I'm not conveying this very clearly, but I just felt like there was no reason for particular characters to live or die, just that it suited the story for it to happen that way. But it was stylish and I quite liked the German accents! Definitely worth a look.

One of the best thrillers I’ve seen in a long while. An excellent storyline, well cast, superbly scripted, subtle humour in places, and brilliant soundtrack. I appreciate that’s a lot of superlatives, but “Hanna� is very good, as Scrumpyjack and Archgate have said below. It’s so good I might see it again. It’s rare that TO regular “Scrumpyjack�, “Archgate�, and myself have not only seen the same film (independently of each other), but all rate it highly – which probably means you’ll be sorry if you miss it and only catch up with it when it comes to DVD or TV. I thought Tom Hollander played a convincing mincing villain very well. Definitely worthy of 4 stars.

Very good film could have been excellent but for a few "quirks" (biggest one Hollander as TH mentioned) and that need now days for a 12a (it is a strong one, but this piece requires at least 15 rated violence...whip/jump cuts get a little tedious. It deserves the 4 * rating T.O. has given it but don't take mine as suggesting it's excellent, like I said very good.