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Hanna Earns Early Raves: "Futuristic Fairy Tale, Arthouse Action Movie, Chase Thriller"

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 31, 2011 at 7:00AM

Director Joe Wright delivers a tour-de-force E-ride thriller with Focus Features's Hanna, starring an athletic Saoirse Ronan, who able carries the movie, supported by Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana. But don't expect much depth--or dialogue for that matter-- from the director of Atonement and Pride & Prejudice. The movie sets up its premise: Hanna has been raised in isolation by protective parent Bana, and enters the world prepared to defend herself from Blanchett and her agents who are out to kill her. Then a masterfully executed chase ensues. Look out for one of Wright's signature long takes.
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Thompson on Hollywood


Director Joe Wright delivers a tour-de-force E-ride thriller with Focus Features's Hanna, starring an athletic Saoirse Ronan, who able carries the movie, supported by Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana. But don't expect much depth--or dialogue for that matter-- from the director of Atonement and Pride & Prejudice. The movie sets up its premise: Hanna has been raised in isolation by protective parent Bana, and enters the world prepared to defend herself from Blanchett and her agents who are out to kill her. Then a masterfully executed chase ensues. Look out for one of Wright's signature long takes.

Check out the early reviews below, plus the trailer and clips here. Hanna lands in theaters April 8.

Caryn James:

"Hanna, played with ferocity and thorough conviction by Saoirse Ronan, is metaphorically a fairy tale princess updated to a contemporary superheroine…A superbly natural actress, Ronan makes every one of Hanna’s improbable ploys seem like things she just cooked up, even when they involve murder and vengeance. And The Chemical Brothers’ soundtrack adds just the right contemporary electronic charge for this new kind of action movie. The only weak element – and I’m shocked to be saying this – is Cate Blanchett…From the Southern accent that fades in and out to the terrible wig, nothing works for her here; this may be the only time I’ve seen a performance of hers fail."

Justin Chang, Variety:

"an exuberantly crafted chase thriller that pulses with energy from its adrenaline-pumping first minutes to its muted bang of a finish…this futuristic fairy tale announces Wright as an outstanding director of action, and Saoirse Ronan, in the title role of a teenage assassin, again proves a consummate muse. At times suggesting the genesis of an arthouse Bourne-style franchise, Focus release will require critical support to hit that elusive sweet spot where pulpy and rarefied tastes occasionally converge…Hanna may fulfill the lusty girl-power fantasies of a certain segment of the audience, but Wright is every bit as invested in her outcome as the viewer is likely to be. In addition to the martial-arts training she undertook for the role, Ronan, as spirited here as she was in "Atonement," endows the character with emotional and moral dimensions that the film, even at its most preposterous, takes seriously…[even if] the destination is a letdown, the ride is a consistently startling, even thrilling one. Wright's past work has always breathed formal assurance, yet nothing quite prepares the viewer for the action chops he demonstrates here."

Todd McCarthy, THR:

" Joe Wright seems hellbent on proving he's a high-powered action stylist in Hanna. This sort of reverse-image, quasi-intellectual cousin to Luc Besson's The Professional stars the exceptional Saoirse Ronan…With [Ronan and Blanchett] as the heart of the film, one can scarcely go far wrong. But while there's always a lot going on, and none of it uninteresting or dull, pervading the enterprise is the distinct feeling that Wright is trying to prove something -- that he's a real filmmaker and not just a literary transcriber…The compositions devised with Wright by cinematographer Alwin Kuchler are dense and luminous, packed with information and insistent upon what the spectator is and is not meant to notice. But this is suggestive of how the overall enterprise, for all its intrigue and visceral impact, feels overly thought out, affected and forced in its stylization. Wright has got plenty of moves, but they seem applied rather than organic, noticeable in their own right rather than an inevitable part of the overall fabric."

Drew McWeeny, HitFix:

"Wright is on his game again in this one, and he's made a really strange, lovely little arthouse action movie that delivers an emotional kick and some strong visceral thrills…it works primarily because of the combination of Wright's meticulous film sense and some wonderful, nuanced work from actors playing fairly broad and thinly-written roles…And did I mention that the score by the Chemical Brothers is sick? Because it is. Completely and utterly sick. And I love it…Blanchett is one of those actors who I love because they always make big choices.  She's got a crazy American accent in this one, and she's playing a barely-in-control freak of an agent, someone wound so tight you wonder how they don't drop dead of stress every second of every day…Hanna is, in many ways, a slight film, but it is so effective and so spare in the way it accomplishes its goals, that I walked away impressed.  Wright creates indelible images throughout, and he's not afraid to play rough with both his characters and the audience."

This article is related to: Box Office, Directors, Genres, Headliners, Studios, Video, Reviews, Spring, Thriller, Action, Universal/Focus Features, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.