Pre-release US poster
|Directed by||Joe Wright|
|Story by||Seth Lochhead|
|Music by||The Chemical Brothers|
|Cinematography||Alwin H. Küchler|
|Edited by||Paul Tothill|
|Distributed by||Focus Features|
Sony Pictures (in certain territories)
|Box office||$65.3 million|
Hanna is a 2011 action adventure thriller film that contains some prominent fairy tale elements, directed by Joe Wright. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as the title character, a girl raised in the wilderness of northern Finland by her father, an ex-CIA operative (Eric Bana), who trains her as an assassin. Cate Blanchett is a senior CIA agent who tries to track down and eliminate the girl and her father. The soundtrack was written by The Chemical Brothers.
Hanna was released in North America in April 2011 and in Europe in May 2011. The film received a positive response from most critics, with reviewers praising the performances of Ronan and Blanchett as well as the action sequences and themes.
Hanna Heller is a fifteen-year-old girl who lives with her father, Erik, in rural northern Finland. Since the age of two, Hanna has been trained by Erik, an ex-CIA operative from Germany, to be a skilled assassin. He teaches her hand-to-hand combat and drills her in target shooting. Erik knows a secret that cannot become public, and Marissa Wiegler, a senior C.I.A. officer, searches for him in order to eliminate him. Erik has trained Hanna with the intent that she will kill Marissa.
One night, Hanna tells Erik that she is "ready" to face their enemies. Erik digs up a radio beacon that eventually will alert the C.I.A. to their presence. Although he warns Hanna that a confrontation with Marissa will be fatal for either her or Marissa, he leaves the final decision to Hanna, who activates the beacon. Erik leaves, instructing her to meet him in Berlin.
Hanna is taken to an underground C.I.A. complex in Morocco where a suspicious Marissa sends a body double. While talking to the double, Hanna starts to cry and crawls sobbing into the lap of the double, which makes her captors uneasy. They send some guards to her cell to sedate her. As they enter the cell, Hanna kills the double along with some of the guards and escapes.
Hanna meets Sebastian and Rachel, who are on a camper-van holiday with their children, Sophie and Miles in Morocco. She stows away in the family's camper-van on the ferry ride to Spain, seeking to reach Berlin. The family is kind to her, and she and Sophie become friends, even sharing a kiss together.
Marissa hires Isaacs, a sadistic former agent, to capture Hanna. Hanna travels with the family as they drive north through France. Isaacs and two skinheads trail them and eventually corner Hanna and the family near Hamburg, but she manages to escape, killing one of the assailants. Marissa catches up with the British family and during interrogation finds out that Hanna is heading to Berlin.
Arriving at the address that Erik had given her, Hanna meets with Knepfler, an eccentric old magician and a friend of Erik's, who lives in an abandoned amusement park. Hanna plans a rendezvous with her father. However, Marissa and Isaacs arrive. Hanna escapes, but overhears comments that suggest Erik is not her biological father.
Later, Hanna goes to her grandmother's apartment where she finds Erik, who has unsuccessfully tried to kill Marissa in her hotel room. Hanna's grandmother has been murdered by Marissa. Erik admits that he is not her biological father. He once recruited pregnant women into a C.I.A. program where their children's DNA was enhanced in order to create super-soldiers. After the project was shut down, its subjects were eliminated.
Marissa and Isaacs arrive; Erik acts as a distraction to allow Hanna to escape. Erik kills Isaacs in a fight, but is shot by Marissa, who goes to Knepfler's house. Hanna is there, having just discovered Knepfler tortured to death by Isaacs. After a chase, Hanna kills Marissa.
- Saoirse Ronan as Hanna Heller
- Eric Bana as Erik Heller
- Cate Blanchett as Marissa Wiegler
- Jessica Barden as Sophie
- Aldo Maland as Miles
- Tom Hollander as Isaacs
- Olivia Williams as Rachel
- Jason Flemyng as Sebastian
- Michelle Dockery as False Marissa
- Vicky Krieps as Johanna Zadek
- Martin Wuttke as Knepfler
The film's story and script were written by Seth Lochhead while a student at Vancouver Film School. He wrote the original story and script on spec, and finalized the script in 2006, with David Farr providing later changes.
The film was co-produced by the US Holleran Company and German Studio Babelsberg, with financial support from various German film funds and the main distributor, Focus Features, which holds the copyright to the film. Most of the filming was done at Studio Babelsberg in Berlin, but locations also included Lake Kitka in Kuusamo, Finland, several German locations (including Bad Tölz, the water bridge at Magdeburg, Köhlbrandbrücke and Reeperbahn in Hamburg, and various sites in Berlin, such as Kottbusser Tor, Görlitzer Bahnhof and Spreepark), as well as Ouarzazate and Essaouira in Morocco. Temperatures during the Finland shoot sometimes fell as low as −33 °C (−27 °F), but Ronan said "Finland did bring out the fairy tale aspects of the story. We were shooting on a frozen lake, surrounded by pine trees covered in snow".
Themes and motifs
Reviewers remarked that the setting and style of Hanna significantly depart from a typical action movie. According to the official website, the film has "elements of dark fairy tales" woven into an "adventure thriller". Joe Wright, the director, has said that the movie's theme is a "fantasy" about "overcoming the dark side" during the "rites of passage" of adolescent maturation when a child transforms and "has to go into the world". He said that he was influenced by personal exposure every day as he grew up to "violent, dark, cautionary fairy tales" that "prepare children for the future obstacles in the wider world", as well as his "deep love for the mystical qualities of David Lynch movies", by the patterns of narrative that he prefers because of his dyslexia, and by working as a child in his parents' puppetry company.
In an interview with Film School Rejects, Wright acknowledged David Lynch as a major influence on Hanna and also pointed to The Chemical Brothers' score: "You can expect an extraordinarily loud, thumping, deeply funky score that will not disappoint". The music, including The Devil Is In The Beats and The Devil Is In The Details, underscores the movie's style, recalling Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange with musical motifs consistent with Wright's "fairy tale theme" of childhood innocence confronting the modern "synthetic" world. Several reviewers have commented that the movie has a hyper-stylized Kubrickian tone, reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange. The "Kubrick-esque" style includes Isaacs' "gleeful sadism... at times darkly comedic," a whistling villain reminiscent of Alex DeLarge. Joe Wright's "love of fairy tales and David Lynch movies" was seen as blending A Clockwork Orange  and the work of the Brothers Grimm.
Richard Roeper judged it to be a "surreal fairy tale" with "omnipresent symbolism". Matt Goldberg said it was "an effective and surreal dark fairy tale"... ..."with a dreamlike sensibility... ...Everything in the picture is slightly askew and provides immediacy to Hanna’s offbeat coming-of-age tale... ...a film that refuses to exist solely in the realm of reality or fairy tale... ...'gritty' realism simply isn’t worthy of the story he’s trying to tell." Fairy tale motifs are strewn through the film. In the "tightly-edited patchwork of visual iconography, allusion and symbolism" Wiegler is equated with the Big Bad Wolf or the queen in Snow White. "Classic fairy tale movie tropes abound;" for example, the camera spins in obvious circles as Hanna makes her escape from the underground government facility early in the film, "just as the young heroine’s world is spinning out of control." Peter Bradshaw found the fairy tale mythology "unsubtle". Conversely, some reviewers did not comment on the fairy tale elements, and others did so with expressive reservation.
Kyle Munkittrick of Discover magazine notes that Hanna is a "transhumanist hero". Despite being genetically engineered to have "high intelligence, muscle mass, and no pity", she is still a good-natured person. He says Hanna "symbolizes the contest between genetics and environment", or, "perhaps more familiarly, nature versus nurture".
The film also contains references to the novel Frankenstein. A scene in which Hanna observes a family interacting through a small opening in the box where she is hiding parallels the Monster's experience while he hides in a cottage. That she is a being created by people playing god is an overarching thematic similarity.
Hanna received mostly positive reviews; it has a 71% favorable rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 212 reviews. The site's critical consensus states: "Fantastic acting and crisply choreographed action sequences propel this unique, cool take on the revenge thriller". On Metacritic, the film received a weighted average score of 65/100 based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Justin Chang of Variety said that Hanna is "an exuberantly crafted chase thriller that pulses with energy from its adrenaline-pumping first minutes to its muted bang of a finish". Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars out of four, commenting "Wright combines his two genres into a stylish exercise that perversely includes some sentiment and insight".
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, on the other hand, gave the film two stars out of five, stating "With its wicked-witch performance from Cate Blanchett, its derivative premise, its bland Europudding location work and some frankly outrageous boredom, this will test everyone's patience." Kenneth Turan, of the Los Angeles Times, stated that the film "starts off like a house afire but soon burns itself out", adding that even though the film is "[b]lessed with considerable virtues, including a clever concept, crackling filmmaking and a charismatic star, it ultimately squanders all of them, undone by an unfortunate lack of subtlety and restraint".
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hanna came in second place at the U.S. box office in its first weekend behind Hop. When the film closed on 7 July 2011, it had grossed $40.3 million in North America and $25.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $65.3 million.
Awards and nominations
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