Watched Hanna last night & quite enjoyed it. The obvious comparison is to Léon, also known as The Professional. Do you guys remember Natalie Portman? Not the woman she grew up to be; adult Natalie Portman is a fine professional actress, but do you remember the precocious kid from Beautiful Girls? The savant-like charm she exuded? Did George Lucas kill that? Lets just say it is another charge to lay at his feet & leave it at that. Saoirse Ronan hits a similar vibe, though from a different direction & perhaps not as well. She's the pitiless Frankenstein monster trying to fit in with a world where everyone wants to kill her, rather than the abandoned & threatened Mathilda picking up the gun for the first time. The glue that holds the movie together is the soundtrack, done by the Chemical Brothers-- or well, done by the Chemical Brothers channeling the spirits of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It is a movie about a little science-fiction wolf-girl going all murdersome, how could I resist? She has the tentative reaching out towards life-- embodied in her friendship with Jessica Barden's character Sophie-- that has predictable consequences, as her flight leaves a trail of...well, of people for the bad guys to torture. We don't see what happens to them, ultimately, & I'm fine with that, because really, who care about regular people? There are fairy tale elements but for the most part they are lightly used, which serves the script best. The scene with the groundskeeper, on the other hand? Should have been cut. Restraint delivers the best parts of the movie-- see also, the lack of any silly plot twist, thank heavens-- & it is weakest when it is soaking in cliche. Its threads start to unravel.
One of the reasons the movie succeeds is because it doesn't betray its premise: that Hanna is a unstoppable machine of destruction. It walks the fine line between "fragile girl" & "trained from childhood to be an assassin" really well, & resists the temptation to crumple. Oh, there are plenty of moments to yell at the screen-- "why would she do that!?"-- but I can forgive sloppy film logic. Why did she do that stupid thing? Well, to advance the plot. Eric Bana seems like a bad-ass version of Jack, from LOST-- maybe it is the beard thing?-- but he suffers in comparison to Jean Reno, whose Léon was broken & ugly enough to be a believable hitman; Bana is just too pretty even with a Viking beard. You need a Forest Whitaker "Ghost Dog" type, I think. The "muscle" in the film is Tom Hollander, & while we're comparing people I'll point out that he brings a very similar energy to Peter Stormare's psychopath in Fargo. Cate Blanchett does bring it hardcore as the villain; if we're comparing everyone to Léon, I guess that would make her the Gary Oldman, & I'd say she holds her own. It is hard to close with a final verdict: I adored Léon with the passion an eighteen year old can bring to a film, so comparing anything to it is going to be difficult. The sound mixing in Hanna is better, the cinematography is strong, the soundtrack is lovely, & all the moving pieces fit. The locations are great-- that one power plant facility where every movie shoots, an abandoned amusement park, the ice in Finland, oceans of shipping containers, that sort of thing. You know what? I don't care about comparing it to any other movie. Why should I? I liked it & that is what ought to count.