Apparently, Hanna director, Joe Wright, has had some words for Zack Snyder and Sucker Punch. He seems to feel that any amount of ass kicking done by the ladies of Snyder’s film is undermined by length of their skirts (Psst… they’re short.)

I suppose he has a point, but I don’t feel that it is particularly relevant to Hanna. They are wholly separate animals. Sucker Punch is a pop and flash, hyper-stylized video game of a movie. Hanna is quiet, sharp and thoughtful. The two are as similar as Wright’s Atonement and Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead.

There once was a girl named Hanna (Saoirse Ronan). She lived in the forest with her father (Eric Bana). He taught her many things. He would read to her about blue whales and music. He taught her how to hunt and survive and how to be a crazy-awesome ninja warrior.

Hanna is not your ordinary little girl that lives in the woods with her father, training in hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship. She is stronger, faster and when she is ready, the flip of a switch puts a carefully detailed plan into motion.

The plan requires her capture, putting her in close proximity to Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), close enough to kill her.

Marissa was the CIA handler for Hanna’s father. It’s obvious that they were both part of an operation that is best kept quiet. So, when Hanna kills a double for Marissa and continues with the plan her father laid out, she is unaware that Marissa and her cartoonish, German ghouls are now hunting her. They chase her down a path that leads to her true identity.

Along the way and through some rather tightly wound action, the movie manages to be quite sweet and funny. Hanna is discovering a world, most of which she only knows from books. It’s a gag we’ve seen before in plenty of movies, from Starman to Encino Man (wheeze the juice). Though, the movie isn’t going for an easy laugh. Ronan is genuine and these moments, especially those when she encounters a family on holiday and their “normal” teenage daughter, nestle cleanly amongst the larger action and intrigue of the story. It’s a hard balance to strike, but Wright manages it without flaw.

Ronan, who we’ve seen in Atonement, is quite good. She handles the physicality superbly. The action is in the style of Bourne. It’s precise without looking staged or choreographed. When Bana and Ronan are going at it and the camera gets close in, it’s hard to tell them apart. Bana has been around the block and got rough and tumble in more than a couple movies. Ronan is able to stand up with him and leave no doubt about Hanna’s skill and power.

She does a balancing of her own between the fighting and the flood of experiencing the world for the first time. Often stone-faced, you think it’s one dimensional, but then she comes to life as she discovers things that she only heard about as her father read an encyclopedia. Music, a friend, kindness–these things light up her face.

Before I even saw the movie, when I just saw the trailers, I wanted to write about how villainous and superb Cate Blanchett was as Marissa Wiegler. I was let down.  It’s different for her and well played, but Wiegler is not, if you don’t mind me making a Buffy reference, the “Big Bad.” There are moments, but she seems only to be something they’re running from, a reference point.

More Bana. He was awesome. I wanted more.

One of my biggest issues with the movie is that it is disjointed in parts because of the Chemical Brothers. Sure, yes. They’re swell and all, but they didn’t always fit. Particular scenes turned very Chemical Brothers-y and the shots, pace and mood of the movie was forced to match their music, rather than the music informing and enhancing what’s on screen.

How was it? Good. Not great. I think it could have been great, but they pulled their punches. PG-13 will get you every time. There was a lot of material to work with and I’m not saying I need a blood bath, but they didn’t take things far enough.

You have Tom Hollander (Cutler Beckett from the last two Pirates of the Caribbean movies) playing a German hitman that runs some sort of deviant sex theater. You’d think he’d get a little more vicious. And he may have; you just don’t see it. Wiegler has a license to kill. What did she do with the family Hanna fell in with? “OK, guys. Cool. Thanks for info. Have fun on the rest of your vacation.” Probably not, but we don’t know.

It reminds me of how radio folk have to talk around certain topics. They can’t just say “blowjob.” They have to dance around it and allude to it. They never actually say it.

Hanna falls short when they set things up and see them through.

Still, it’s good. I enjoyed it. It makes me excited to see what Saoirse Ronan will do next. I hope she continues along this path and continues taking roles that you don’t often see played by a 17-year-old girl.

Maybe she can team up with Jason Bourne? If nothing else, I think someone with a lot of time on their hands could do some mash-up of the Bourne movies and Hanna. I’d watch that on  YouTube. Post on my Facebooks. Heck, I might even tweet it.

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