Despite some plot holes, Hanna is an entertaining film with three great performances from Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander and a serviceable one from Eric Bana. As for the Blu-ray, the video is fantastic, the audio is bombastic and some of the best lossless audio I’ve experienced in a while and the features are alright if not forgettable.
Genre(s): Action, Drama
Universal | PG13 – 111 min. – $34.98 | September 6, 2011
Directed by: Joe Wright
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett
Theatrical Release Date: April 8, 2011
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Ending, BD-Live, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1), French (DTS 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
Joe Wright’s latest film, Hanna, is a suspense-thriller that draws inspiration on the Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
The story centers on a young girl named Hanna (SAOIRSE RONAN) who has been raised in the wilderness of Finland with her father, Erik Haller (ERIC BANA). We don’t exactly know her deal except she’s an expert marks… person who can hunt, a master fighter able to kick her father’s ass but she’s also a curious girl wanting to know more about the world, all of which she’s only been taught. After some reluctance, Erik agrees that Hanna is ready to be out on her own so he unearths a beacon he’s kept hidden and when she’s ready to go, she is to switch it on at which point those that have been chasing her, namely the CIA and Agent Marissa Wiegler (CATE BLANCHETT). When the time comes, Erik goes out on his own leaving Hanna to fend for herself and meet Wiegler face to face.
Wiegler, we discover later in a flashback, was Haller’s handler and as he tried to take Hanna and her mother away, Wiegler assassinates the mother and frames Haller for the murder. Now, one of my problems with the film asks why the beacon needed to be used at all. Was it some sort of rite of passage for Hanna? Why couldn’t father and daughter venture to civilization together, set up new lives via fake IDs (from a character named Sebastian – played by Jason Flemying – who has all of Hanna’s IDs and passport at the ready) and then implement some sort of plan to exact revenge upon Wiegler?
In any case, after a short but nifty fight sequence at the cabin in the woods, Hanna is brought to a secret CIA bunker where she’s debriefed by some creepy dude as Wiegler looks on at a bank of monitors since the interrogation room has been outfitted with multiple cameras on the walls and ceiling. Why were that many necessary? Who cares, it looks hella cool on screen! So, rather than risking her life, Wiegler sends in a decoy to speak with Hanna. Predictably, Hanna employs her lethal skill set and snaps the decoy’s head like a twig, gets a hold of a gun, shoots out the dozen cameras in the room, escapes through an intricate air ventilation system as an army of security chases and finds the exit up top where she lands in the middle of the desert where she meets two kids, part of a gypsy family. She eventually hitches a ride with the family as she gets closer to Berlin.
Meanwhile, Wiegler employs the services of nightclub owner named Isaacs (TOM HOLLANDER) to track down Hanna while she focuses on Erik’s trail where the two paths you know will eventually merge to a PG-13 rated bloody conclusion.
I know based on this plot summary I might sound cynical towards this film but in reality I found Hanna to be an enjoyable if not fluffy piece of entertainment where the story is fairly simple but tended to also be a tad convoluted in how it plays out between coincidences and unnecessary plot devices.
In the film, Bana’s character states to Hanna that the reason for using the beacon that she was the only one who could get close to Wiegler and exact revenge for her mother’s death. And yet when given the opportunity, Wiegler decides to stay on Erik’s trail leaving the B-team to handle Hanna. Surely he knew that once she knew he was still out there that he could’ve just as easily taken care of her and in a much easier fashion than hoping Hanna would get close enough and that Wiegler wouldn’t… you know… use a decoy.
Hanna was directed with efficiency by Joe Wright who has helmed two of my favorite movies of the past decade in Pride & Prejudice and, especially, Atonement. He also was behind the camera for The Soloist which despite being Oscar bait didn’t pan out quite as well. Even so, this is a bit of a change-up for UK born director but he does it with the same finesse and style I’ve come to appreciate.
In terms of the cast, Eric Bana is serviceable in his role, though nothing special as I’ve seen him emote far better in a film like Hulk (speaking of being overly complicated for a simple plot) but as the father figure, he’s alright. However, the film belongs to the two female leads. Saoirse Ronan plays up the killer girl just fine and has the physicality to pull off the role while Cate Blanchett is fantastic as the main antagonist. The performance isn’t exactly memorable or anything but at the same time it’s intense.
However, as great as Blanchett was, the award for scene stealing goes to Tom Hollander as the man in charge of hunting down Hanna and anybody who gets in his way. I might be overstating it here, but it’s at the very least worthy of a Golden Globe nomination and, if the competition is weak, maybe even an Oscar nod as well. Note, the last time I made a similar proclamation, it came true (Diane Lane in Unfaithful), so place your bets now…
The story for Hanna was written by Seth Lochhead making his debut with co-screenwriter duties from David Farr whose only other stint was on the British series, “MI-5”.
Overall, even though the entire movie is predicated on one plot point, I still found Hanna to be an enjoyable film with fun, high-octane action, some clever writing (for what’s essentially a revenge film) and solid acting by lead Saoirse Ronan.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
Feature Commentary – Director Joe Wright provides a robust if not low-key commentary talking about scene specific items from set designs, on-location shooting, props and a variety of other tidbits. It’s not an entirely engrossing track as Wright could’ve used a co-pilot, but as it stands it’s a decent commentary.
Alternate Ending (1:28; HD) – This ending doesn’t change the outcome and serves more as an extension to what happens after the finale. With this, Hanna returns to the cabin and after an inner monologue and packing up supplies, she goes back out into the wilderness.
Deleted Scenes (3:46; HD) – Here we get a few inconsequential scenes that were rightly deleted such as showing Hanna getting into the van (and breaking the sunroof) and other scenes that only extended the running time without evolving the story.
Adapt or Die (13:15; HD) is primarily a making-of with behind-the-scenes footage to go along with cast and crew interviews. There’s little here you will learn but seeing some of the training the actors went through is somewhat interesting at least. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Central Intelligence Allegory (8:54; HD) – This is another featurette this time covering the CIA parts (including Blanchett’s character) and the plot device it plays or, as Wright puts it, the McGuffin of the film. It’s more of the same as “Adapt or Die” and in fact this, along with the others, could’ve been rolled into one longer ‘making-of’ documentary. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Chemical Reaction (6:06; HD) is a featurette covering the score/soundtrack composed by the Chemical Brothers and has interviews with Wright as well as the CB via phone. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Anatomy of a Scene: The Escape from Camp G (3:10; HD) – Joe Wright gives his insights into the escape sequence and how he approached directing it. It’s not a great featurette and is more like a commentary but is a tad more in-depth as he can analyze specific aspects.
The Wide World of Hanna (2:12; HD) – This is a typical EPK featurette where members of the crew (including Wright) spell out the story for us and where it takes the viewer. There’s some behind-the-scenes footage but it’s a very basic ‘making-of’ look. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Hanna Promo (1:28; HD) is more or less a remixed trailer for the film. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
BD-Live – With this portal, you can watch trailers for other Universal titles and when your player is connected, custom trailers will play, but you are able to skip them. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
There’s also Universal’s pocket BLU app where, through your web-connected device (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, PC and Mac), can utilize a few features such as the Advanced Remote Control, Video Timeline, Mobile-To-Go (download and save content to your device), Browse Titles and Keyboard.
The disc also has a newer feature called uHEAR where, when enabled, the movie will go back a few seconds and replay a scene with the subtitles on. It’s a useless feature IMO and says more about a movie if you can’t understand the dialogue. There’s also Universal’s standard My Scenes feature where you can bookmark scenes for later playback.
There’s also a digital copy download code included compatible with any Apple device and Windows Media Player. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Hanna fights its way onto Blu-ray high-def with a great looking transfer. The disc maintains the film’s original 2.40 aspect ratio and given the wide array of locales, we get a good amount of colors and tones to judge. First you have the winter scenery at the beginning and within the cabin there’s the fiery glow to the reds and oranges in the desert to cooler tones once we get to the finale in Berlin. The detail level is quite good especially on close-ups and the picture itself has a fine amount of natural film grain and noise that only helps preserve the film-like quality.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
Meanwhile, the movie has an amazing and sometimes bombastic lossless track. The DTS-HD Master Audio track has a good array to it from the finer, dialogue-driven scenes to the more action-packed sequences including Hanna’s initial “capture” which absolutely shakes the ground and could damn near wake up the neighborhood if you watch this late at night.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, despite some plot holes, Hanna is an entertaining film with three great performances from Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander and a serviceable one from Eric Bana. As for the Blu-ray, the video is fantastic, the audio is bombastic and some of the best lossless audio I’ve experienced in a while and the features are alright if not forgettable.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.