Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the fractured fairy tale of hanna

I finally got to see the movie Hanna. Its plot is simple — a spy vs. spy story that has impacted the next generation, the child of one of the spies. 16 year-old Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is the daughter of ex-CIA operative Erik (Eric Bana). Fourteen years ago CIA officer Marissa (Cate Blanchett) tried to eliminate Erik, Hanna's mother, and two year-old Hanna, who were all involved in a canceled but top-secret project, but she only succeed in killing Hanna's mother.

Erik escapes with the baby and hides out in the frozen mountains of Finland, where he trains her to be a first-class assassin. The movie is essentially a chase film, where Hanna tries to escape Marissa and reunite with Erik. But what makes Hanna special are its striking visuals and fairy tale subtext. Blanchett makes a deadly and devastating wicked witch, complete with evil troll Issacs (Tom Hollander) to do her bidding and killing.

Hanna has been raised to survive in the wilderness
The world is wild and wonderful for Hanna
Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? Not Hanna.
Hanna is an intrepid heroine, bringing to mind Gerda from Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. She makes her way through a forest, the deserts of Morocco, Spain and Germany. Along the way she makes some friends who become her temporary companions, including a hippie British family and a friendly magician. After being raised in isolation, everything is ne to her, but she adapts quickly, even when she learns some disturbing truths about her parentage. She has been an apt pupil, incorporating all the survival skills from her father and will need to use them if she is to to dispatch Marissa in he climactic showdown, set in Spreepark, an abandoned amusement park in East Berlin.

Hanna is a little too bloody and even callous to be a movie that one would watch more than once. If director Joe Wright had kept the body count down and upped the magical elements more it might have had a more widespread appeal. But it is still an effective, lethal little thriller. Cate Blanchett was truly scary and Saoirse Ronan even has a princess kiss moment, complete with tutu, although without the usual fairytale outcome for this tough little cookie.
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