Tuesday, July 11, 2017

So Help Me Hanna

I watched Hanna (2011) on a plane the first time, and thought Ms. Spenser might enjoy it. I was wrong, but...

It starts with Saoirse Ronan out in the snow, hunting a reindeer with a homemade bow. It turns out that her father (Eric Bana) has been raising her alone in the Finnish outback to become a super-soldier assassin. When she is ready, she can let the CIA know where she is, and kill the agent that killed her mother and wants her dead (Cate Blanchett).

So, Ronan is soon picked up and brought into the belly of the intelligence beast, an underground high-security cell. In a spasm of ultra-violence and cool filming, she escapes. To give you an idea of the coolness, there are people running through a wind tunnel, because it makes a great geometric background. I think this is the point where we get a close-up of Ronan's face spinning around, Batman style. I like this kind of film stylization - or craziness, depending on how you think of it.

Any way, she breaks out and finds that she's in the middle of the Moroccan desert. She scoops up a caftan from a laundry line and meets up with some British tourists, and is introduced to the world of ordinary kids. But it can't last because the CIA is still on her tail.

Ronan is amazing in this role - her hair and eyebrows bleached out like a ghost, her mix of mature strength and viciousness and Caspar-Hauser-like innocence of the world, and of course, the way she rocks the caftan. Blanchett is suitably creepy as a buttoned-down CIA agent, with her stiletto heels and perfect make up. We see her at least twice doing her teeth, scrubbing them until they bleed.

Plus this is a cool one-man army story, with the added benefit that the one man is a beautiful young woman. The action isn't non-stop, but it is top notch. Add in some arty filming, and I think you've got a movie.

But Ms. Spenser felt differently. For one thing, the dead reindeer grossed her out right at the start. Then there's the whole super-soldier serum thing - it turns out SPOILER that Hannah is the result of Forbidden Genetic Experiments to make her stronger and more ruthless. In other words, Jason Bourne's little sister. Once this is revealed, the whole thing becomes a comicbook - it's no longer serious, just fantasy. It's pretty much unnecessary as well - she was raised by an unmodified superspy, and he seems to be as badass as her. Before the revelation, she found the movie excessively nasty, after, just a cheat.

I didn't have quite that reaction, but I did notice on closer inspection that the plot had way more holes than necessary. Fortunately that doesn't bother me.

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