There’s been a respectable number of young-lady-centric movies recently, some of them good (True Grit) and some of them pretty awful (Sucker Punch). Hanna definitely falls in the former category.
The story is a little vague, but not too hard to follow. Hanna is the daughter of a rogue CIA-or-something agent who has grown up separated from civilization in a snowy forest-land, learning how to be the perfect soldier and not a whole lot else. She does manage to retain some wonder though, which makes her an interesting character. Once she is set free from her prison as a rite of passage deal, we’re witness to both her efficiency as a warrior and her quizzical, awkward side as she deals with attackers and newfound friends on a mission to avenge her murdered mother who she never knew. On the way, she discovers things about herself and her father that change her world forever.
Possibly the coolest thing about this movie is the soundtrack and how the rest of the film is entwined with it. Near the beginning of the movie Hanna asks her father what music is, and is given a dry, colorless definition that really has no bearing on what she really wants to know; when she first discovers music in an ugly Moroccan hotel, she’s enthralled. There are several scenes where the characters are doing rhythmic things that sync up with the music to great effect. The music itself is great. It’s the first Chemical Brothers music I’ve heard, and I think I’ll probably be investigating them further.
The second greatest thing I thought was the dialogue. Hanna herself speaks very strangely, mostly in a sort of rapid-fire fashion, especially when reciting her carefully memorized cover story to people who don’t really care. At other times she just says things that any normal person wouldn’t say, to the confusion of her audience. Another character, a young European girl who quickly befriends Hanna, says possibly even weirder things in her matter-of-fact voice that I found pretty hilarious. The adult cast’s dialogue is also quirky but not to the same extent.
The camera work is awesome, the characters are colorful and interesting, the dialogue is a joy, and it’s all just so darn fun. It does help that many comparisons could be drawn to The Bourne Identity without danger of being another Unknown. As far as female empowerment goes, I think this movie succeeds quite well. It’s not exactly what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t a disappointment at all.