It’s not often I’ll think a film should be longer. If anything, I usually prefer my films to be around the two-hour mark, long enough to tell a decent story for most movies, without the usual waffle. I’m not someone who can sit through an epic, a key reason why I didn’t enjoy the Lord of the Rings trilogy as much as most other people, unless its hugely entertaining, like The Dark Knight.
Two hours won’t always be enough though. If a film wants to try something slightly different, a bit more ambitious, then two hours isn’t going to cover it but the film better stay entertaining. Hanna had the potential to be entertaining and different, but unfortunately, doesn’t give itself enough time to manage it.
It had the potential to be a decent mix of action thriller and human drama. The first part of the film is a glimpse into this girl’s world, a child that had been raised to be a hunter, a killer and a survivor. The film could have very easily remained an action thriller, a film about the girl being hunted by the shady organisation that may have had some hand in creating her.
It makes a much braver move though. It throws Hanna into the world, book smart, learning about the world from her father, but not actually having experienced it first hand. It then becomes a film about Hanna exploring and discovering the “real world.” Meeting a family, who she adopts, and discovering boys, television and electric lights.
The film over-reaches itself slightly though. It tries to inter-weave the story of Hanna’s discovering the “real world” with the action story of her being hunted. Unfortunately, this means that one of the film’s threads has to suffer, and its Hanna’s experiences. The film doesn’t spend enough time following Hanna as she makes friends and meets “normal” people.
It doesn’t help that it also has to try to tell the story of Hanna’s background, why they are hiding and why Cate Blanchett’s Marissa Wiegler is after her. There should have been at least another thirty minutes of the movie, because the 111 minutes doesn’t quite give Hanna’s story the real justice it deserves.
It’s a real shame because there are some amazing moments in the movie, particularly in the action thriller half of the film. A chase through a dockyard, the villains chasing Hanna around big industrial crates, is a brilliant set-piece. As is Eric Bana, playing Hanna’s father, dispatching villains in an underground car park.
Its worth taking note of how good the performances from the key individuals are. It’s a testament to how good the film could have been that it attracted both Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana, who play their parts really well, as you’d expect. The person who comes out of the film the best is of course Hanna herself, Saoirse Ronan. She gets to play action hero, scared vulnerable teenager and bewildered, duck-out-of-water. It shows off her range and how good an actress she is.
Its a shame then that the film suffers from just being too short and not letting Saoirse Ronan play the teenage Hanna, discovering the “real world” and making new friends, as well as experiencing things like boys and love. Unfortunately, this feels slightly rushed, played for humour rather than for the dramatic effect it could have had.
The action part of the film is done brilliantly and although it never does anything new, it does have some great moments and manages to tell a very effective story with some brilliant actors.
Overall, Hanna is an ambitious film that tries to tell two different stories. It manages to do a fantastic job of the action thriller, with Saoirse Ronan and Eric Banna getting to stretch their action skills. When it comes to the human drama that it’s trying to inter-weave as well, then it doesn’t give it enough time, which is a shame, because there is a great story to be told there as well.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)