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Movie Review

Hanna

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language.

Reviewed by: Steve Warburton
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Action Adventure Thriller Drama
Length:
1 hr. 51 min.
Year of Release:
2011
USA Release:
April 8, 2011 (wide—2,500+ theaters)
DVD: September 6, 2011
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Focus Features

murder in the Bible

death

performing genetic experiments on humans

Why do movies featuring girls as highly trained killers appeal to certain audiences?

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

“Adapt or die”—training motto of Hanna’s father

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Teen Qs™—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
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Featuring: Saoirse Ronan—Hanna
Cate Blanchett—Marissa Wiegler
Eric Bana—Erik Heller
Olivia Williams—Rachel
more »
Director: Joe Wright—“Pride & Prejudice” (2005), “Atonement” (2007), “The Soloist” (2009)
Producer: Barbara A. Hall—executive producer
Marty Adelstein—producer
more »
Distributor: Focus Features

“Young. Sweet. Innocent. Deadly.”

We meet Hanna (Saoirse Ronan—“Atonement,” “The Lovely Bones”), who lives alone in the wilds of North Finland with her her widowed dad, an ex-CIA man. She’s been homeschooled all her life, using an encyclopedia and a book of fairy tales. Her papa Erik (Eric Bana) is primarily teaching her how to fight, how to speak dozens of different languages, and how to survive. These skills come in handy when Hanna decides she wants to venture out in the real world. But doing so attracts the attention of a federal agent, played by Cate Blanchett, who wants to capture her and her father, because, for some reason, they pose a threat to American security.

I kick myself a little, because I went to see this movie with a Christian friend and her nine-year-old daughter. Some parts of the film were a little violent, and I wanted to cover the daughter’s eyes, but, aside from that (and a scene where the Cate Blanchett character goes into a strip club to hire a mercenary), the movie is quite tame. There’s even a point when our titular character learns that her mother once earmarked her for an abortion. To me and my friend, this was quite a pro-life moment. Hanna couldn’t have been more than 15, and now she’s contemplating that her mama wanted to abort her, before a top secret government experiment gave her a new lease on life.

So “Hanna” asks some important moral questions. Is it okay to genetically modify human DNA? Is it okay to treat people as experiments, rather than human beings?

The F-word appears just once in “Hanna.” Isn’t that wonderful? Also, someone says “for Christ’s sakes,” and OMG. These are the only instances of profanity that I remember in a movie that is actually quite tame, compared to a lot of Hollywood action thrillers. If you can get past that, “Hanna” is an intelligent thriller that asks some deep ethical questions.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—HANNA is one of those movies where you just come along for the ride, and then it hits you with a bang. She’s young, on the verge of adulthood, ready to explore the world beyond her sheltered life when her father, Erik (Eric Bana), gave her the opportunity to make the life changing decision to leave the safeties of her home. Since being raised with absolute trust and the skill to survive in the harsh realities of the world, she herself had never interacted with another human being since the death of her mother. All she knows is what her father taught her and made her memorized the tiniest detail so that when the time comes, she will be ready for what needs to be done.

***SPOILERS*** Yet, the outside world proved to be more than what can be contained in an encyclopedia. There was music to be heard, real friends to be made, and sharing with the lives of an ideal family. But she’s a wanted girl–dead or alive. Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is not just an innocent girl. She’s a great threat to Marisa Weigler (Cate Blanchett), the CIA agent who killed Hanna’s mother long ago. Cate Blanchett played a cold and calculated killer who will stop at nothing to get what she want, including manipulating her agency’s resources to her advantage. She’s obsessive with cleanliness to the point of brushing her own teeth until they bleed. This scene gives us the insight into this murderous agent. Because of her own short coming, anyone with what to be a case out of the norm, they must be eliminated, especially Hanna.

Hanna is not just a child prodigy. She is a prodigy from a careful experimentation. A project headed by Erik as a recruiter, who recruited pregnant women from abortion clinics for the CIA’s special DNA division. When the CIA higher-ups deemed the project a failure, Erik and Hanna’s mother made a run for it, only to be confronted by Marisa Weigler.

Hanna’s story is a story about a child’s innocence lost, whether it be that she’s an efficient killer, she is a child molded by the very people who claimed to be her protector. Parents often emphasized their own term and ideology into their child so that the child may be just like them or like what their ideal life that had been denied for themselves. Hanna is the innocent lost in a world far from her understanding. She navigated through her obstacles with the knowledge she gained from being taught by her supposed father. In a sense, she had become more than him, and exceeded Marisa Weigler’s expectation.

By the film’s end, we are left to decide for ourselves if Hanna will become a social norm or continuing her streak of killings. For me, she will have no problem of immersing into a crowd but will faces the challenges of everyday sensitivities, such as falling in love and get it broken, making new friends and have a social gathering, etc.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Mang Yang, age 39 (USA)
Neutral—***Spoiler Alert*** I’m not sure what to think of “Hanna.” I did expect more action. But the truth of the matter, this was probably quite a bit more realistic than your typical action movie. It is quite possible to flip a person twice your size over your head, with the right training. Remember, this girl is accustomed to hard labor and martial arts training.

I think what confused me most was why it was necessary to activate the tracking device in the first place. It seems quite possible that they could have relocated to a small populace under assumed identities. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Amy, age 35 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I found this movie to have the overall look of a fairly low budget film… And I was truly disappointed about this, as the Trailer gives the impression that this film is a visually high tech production, however, this is not the case… The Trailer, which shows Hanna killing the imposter, is the only high tech scene in the entire 2 hour movie, which is filled with a lot of nothing during the long middle section…

Basically the movie strands the viewer for about 90 min. as you watch Hanna riding in a VW bus with a family, or you see Hanna watching some gypsies sing and dance for 15 min. … and this type filler and momentum killer just goes on and on and on…

Another issue is that almost all of the chase scenes are shot using ground/eye level “shaky” camera syndrome, and that along with the hundreds of quick chop edits, begin to get tiresome about 40 min. into the movie…

And why Blanchett decided that her role as the “cool/calculated/killer” needed to be played as “clothing store frozen dummy expression” for the entire movie, is anyone’s guess.

And Tom Hollander, a fine actor, was given the role of “whistle and look menacing”… He was totally wasted… and I found that their was a hint of Lesbianism established between Hanna and her friend, as the friend, prior to a sweet scene where she kisses Hanna, has stated she had decided to “become a Lesbian”… and I’m not sure what the long long slow crawl and explore shot on both the girls bare feet had to do with the movie???…

So, this movie feels like a European-made flick, with the director trying every camera angle trick he’s ever dream’t about to try to impress… but what would have impressed would have been a better movie…

And, yes, the girl playing Hanna, is fabulous, and her dad is fine in his part, however, this movie, sad to say, is just not that good… maybe your mileage and opinion will vary…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Kyle, age 42 (USA)
Neutral—Hollow, barren, and empty, harsh and hostile. “Hanna” is a movie that leaves you with an uncomfortable feeling that a giant hole has just been bored through your middle. With the feeling that while life does have its beautiful moments, in the end, death is victor. Pain and suffering are the norm; joy is fleeting.

And the cinematography and acting that attempt to convey this are excellent. In a paradoxical twist, however, this movie also says that life is worth fighting for. Hanna’s father is willing to protect her at all costs, to save her. But it can be easy to lose sight of that through all of the blood and bodies. And while Hanna occasionally misses the heart, this movie takes deadly aim at it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Sarah C., age 20 (USA)
Neutral—This is a “B” grade movie. In the days when there used to be two films in a matinee, this is the first film—the less important one. I did not like the animal killing. I was unimpressed that the motives of the principal players were left to inference. It is not a Christian film, but there is a lot worse to go to.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Blue Phillps, age 53 (Australia)
Neutral—This movie didn’t do much for me one way or the other. It was interesting, but I can’t say that I’ll ever want to watch it again. The most I got out of it was watching Saoirse Ronan kick some butt, knowing that she’s going to play Melanie in “The Host.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I am an animal lover and watching that animal die at the beginning of the movie was the beginning of the end for me. It was brutal and ruthless. Also, there was a coldness of character in these people; almost robotic. Perhaps that’s the way it was meant to be portrayed, but it bothered me. There is enough coldness in the world today.

As usual, there was a lot of action, but no time for any meaningful dialogue or character development. Why movie makers run the film in the speed lane is something else, as well. Please slow down so the audience can see what’s happening and digest everything that is going on.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Maxy, age 27 (USA)
Negative—We felt the movie was a big build up to… a lame ending. Story was ok, but then again kinda dumb. Cinematography was well done. Wait for dollar movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Ray, age 58 (USA)
Negative—This movie was a joke. They tried to cram to much into the film to make it something that its not. My wife and I went to go watch this film, and we walked out on it. I’m surprised that I haven’t read anything about the close ups on little girls, vulgar language, brief nudity, homosexuality (implied between the girls), the parents were portrayed as free spirited and dumb and weren’t parents at all, stripclub scene with midget and disrobing hermaphrodite, perverted Germans and all this before we walked out.

This movie had just enough editing to skirt under the “R” rating. We thought that it was going to be like a “Bourne Identity” type movie but it was more about a girl’s life experience (including experimentation) while on the run. Best word for this one is… demented.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Eric, age 30 (USA)
Negative—I label “Hanna” as a B Movie. Thought it was awful, poor acting, could not emotionally connect with any character, boring and awful ending. Very much looked like a lesbian scene with Hanna and teenage girl. I am not a good writer, just stating that I did not enjoy this movie at all. Very disappointing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Dawn, age 37 (USA)
Negative—If my review can help you not waste your time by watching this movie, I will feel a little better about having wasted mine. The movie has many violent killings, including one of the main characters. The plot is at times ridiculous; finally ending with a scene of more brutal killings. Hubby didn’t like this movie either.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Ann, age 53 (USA)
Negative—I cannot believe how much downright violence, murder and blood were in this movie. I didn’t feel it was a “B” movie, I thought it was very well made, but I am shocked with the amount of cold blooded murder! I like an action flick, but this seemed to have more violent murder than the Jason Bourne flicks. And the lesbian scene, where she kisses the other 13 year old girl, totally uncalled for. Definitely don’t watch this film; it should be rated R, there is so much hard core violence.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Samantha Taylor, age 37 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—A rising star from “Atonement” and “The Lovely Bones,” Saoirse Ronan gets to try something a little different from her innocent girl-type roles. There’s not much at the start for her to chew on; indeed, Hanna is by nature a very hard and remorseless assassin. As the plot moves on though, we see the rough edges reveal a certain vulnerability to her character.

No matter how much and how intense the training Eric put her through, there is nothing that could fully ready her for the myriad of experiences in a populated world. This is where the movie branches off for a moment, focusing perhaps too long on her travels through Morocco with a tourist family. It’s as if the director and screenwriters wanted to really push the culture shock element, cramming in as many diverse lifestyles as possible. It was a little too much culture for me to handle in one sitting, but a hired killer is constantly tailing Hanna and her new friends, so the whole point of the story at least kept in sight. Other than this diversion, the journey is very visually thrilling.

An escape scene from a CIA stronghold early in the film is crisply shot and edited. Every fight scene is electrifying, impressing me with the discipline Saoirse Ronan must have had to train for this role. Eric Bana’s fights are equally slick, if less surprising.

The only one that doesn’t seem to fit is Cate Blanchett; she does her best, but her character didn’t come across as fit for fighting action as the others. The whole film is scored by the electronic duo Chemical Brothers, and the pulsing beats match the fast sequences perfectly, but couldn’t quite provide enough gentleness for more personal scenes. Obviously there is plenty of violence, some of it bordering on R-rated. Some sexual material too, in the form of a strip club visited by Cate Blanchett’s character to hire a mercenary.

Not much language, except the F-word used once near the start. I got what I paid for, namely an exhilarating ride in the vein of the Bourne trilogy.

Produced in a stylish manner and sporting some fine acting from its lead, Hanna succeeds in appealing to that tough-as-nails person in all of us, despite some less-than-perfect elements.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Dan Dorland, age 17 (USA)
Neutral—The film “Hanna” starring Saoirse Ronan as the title character, is thrilling and electric. It was definitely entertaining and enjoyable but by the (rather disappointing) ending felt strangely empty. There was something missing in this thriller, and it was Redemption. The idea of a girl being raised to fight and survive in the wilderness, completely cut of from civilization, and then being thrown into the big city is an intriguing one. I genuinely sympathized with her as she tried to navigate through this strange new world.

The way Hanna is completely innocent and experiences everything as new and exciting, yet can be a brutal almost animal-like killer when threatened is saddening. If I had been in charge of this production, I would have changed a few major things starting with the bizarre family Hanna meets in her travels.

If they had been Christian, and tried to explain the Gospel and Christ to Hanna, this film could have gone far with a happy ending. Also, if the theme of forgiveness and mercy was introduced, the entire story could have possibly been saved from destruction. Of course the film had its beautiful moments, the excitement Hanna expresses at the sight of the plane, or the blossoming friendship between her and Sophie, the first (almost) kiss, which I found incredibly amusing, among others.

So the film was not awful in any means, but the ending was devastating. Is Hanna doomed to walk the world alone, the deaths of both guilty and innocent on her head? Never to experience the healing power of Jesus? If the filmmakers had tried a little harder to include the incredibly important themes of redemption, forgiveness and mercy, and focused less on revenge, perhaps Hanna would be living with a hope and a future…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Eowyn Fallows, age 16 (Canada)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—The preview alone revealed this film as a cold, over-the-top, unrealistic and silly fantasy film. The cold and horrid villain Cate Blanchett, more unreal than the villain in “The Golden Compass,” the tough father who somehow teaches his daughter to flip adults bigger than she is, and of course the ugly blonde waif with the blank face who is our “heroine,” looking as bland as though she really was a clone, and with completely unrealistic skills. After just a few minutes of watching this robotic moppet kill with the strength of a man twice her size, to the rhythm of annoying high-beat music in the background, I knew I was watching a very poor product.

Are we supposed to be awed by the very strange dead-eyed heroine? Looking like a comic book hero with her unrealistically perfect maneuvering skills? Every character is far too out there to be likable or, in my case, even tolerable. If you want a film about a well-trained female fighter, watch “Salt”. Yes, some parts are out there, but not nearly as much; she’s a full-grown woman having been trained by more than a dozen people and, while she has impeccable fighting skills, I don’t recall ever seeing her flip someone bigger than she is over her head.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality:
—Jennifer, age 26 (USA)