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(2011) ** Pg-13
107 min. Universal Pictures. Director: Joe Wright. Cast: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Brenda Blethyn, Vanessa Redgrave.

/content/films/4183/1.jpgThe "you're not paranoid if they're really after you" thriller Hanna—scripted by Seth Lochhead and David Farr, and directed by Joe Wright—has a gag but not much of a point. The gag is to mash-up a young protagonist out of the Grimm's Fairy Tales with a postmodern super-soldier out of—oh, let's say The Bourne Identity. Wright directs the hell out of the script (for better or worse, he fearlessly racks up style points), and he has a credible lead in Saoirse Ronan (who nabbed an Oscar nomination for Wright's Atonement). But Hanna is likely to leave audiences wondering if they've been on a road to nowhere.

Ronan plays sixteen-year-old Hanna, a forest-dwelling girl who trains to hunt, kill, evade and fight under the mentorship of her "papa," Erik Heller (Eric Bana). The movie starts in Finnish territory, which may be something of a pun on the film's structure: in a humble shelter from the snow, Hanna learning about her world almost entirely from books (including a copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales) when not sparring with Erik, who hammers home the prime directive "Adapt or die." Hanna longs to see the real world and at last concludes, "I'm ready." Erik is inclined to agree, and in the film's most prominent head-scratcher, Erik tells his daughter that, in leaving her home, she must flip the switch of a transponder, thereby alerting Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), his former handler at the CIA, of his secret location. This "Bring it on" invitation seems to be Erik's way of advancing the endgame between himself and Wiegler, though a saner person might prefer to stay "underground" while quietly relocating.

At any rate, the CIA scoops up Hanna, leading to a surreal sequence set within a CIA compound that Hanna duly escapes; the story takes on the structure of a chase or, to be Grimm about it, a hunt (call it "Run Hanna Run"). Lochhead and Farr fill out their action drama with Hanna's "abnormal" coming-of-age, as she encounters phenomena like electricity and music (and available boys) for the first times. Hanna takes up with a family traveling in a camper van, who give the girl a strange entry point into society. The parents (Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams) are hippie types, the son (Aldo Maland) a burgeoning pubescent, and the teenage daughter Sophie (Jessica Barden) a wannabe debutante obsessed with boob jobs, boys, and bi-curiosity. The latter becomes Hanna's dubious guide, leading to a disastrous double date. Meanwhile, Wiegler—a.k.a. "the Witch" in this fairy tale—supervises the two-pronged search for Erik and Hanna.

And so Hanna is a flashy but disposable exercise in style over substance, one that—instead of "adapting"—devolves into obvious fairy-tale references as counterpoint to running and gunning. Jeff Imada provides the impressive fight choreography, including Bana's Oldboy-ish single-take takedown of several thugs; the Chemical Brothers provide the pulsing electronic soundtrack. Bana's brawny sufferer and Blanchett's Big Bad Wolf in ice-queen's clothing wittily play off the archetypes, but the show belongs to Ronan, who delivers a steely and yet oddly vulnerable turn that cements her reputation as an acting prodigy. Even with a run time approaching two hours, Wright's film never quite finds purchase with its halfhearted bildungsroman intentions. Hanna emerges from her parents' shadows mostly by confirming the wisdom of what she was told from the start: trust only yourself.

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Aspect ratios: 2.35:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 9/6/2011

Distributor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment


Hanna races onto Blu-ray with A/V as piercing as Saoirse Ronan's eyes. The picture quality is outstanding, clean and crisp with no digital artifacting to speak of (a bit of banding in the skyscapes, but who's counting?). Colors are bold, with excellent contrast and texture, and a rock-solid black level. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix will have your system playing with power, with dynamics ranging from subtle to low-end rumbling. Dialogue is never less than clear, and immersion is total, with lively effects and scoring.

Primary among the bonus features is an audio commentary with director Joe Wright, who provides a thoughtful and detailed accounting of his visual and thematic intentions, as well as the project's path from inception to post-production.

Also here are an "Alternate Ending" (1:28, HD) and three short "Deleted Scenes" (3:46, HD) that, while welcome, hardly add up to a generous selection of outtakes.

"Adapt or Die" (13:15, HD) details the film's approach to action and fight sequences, with Wright, Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and stunt coordinator Jeff Imada discussing how characters inform body blows.

"Central Intelligence Allegory" (8:54, HD) finds Wright, Ronan, Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, producer Leslie Holleran and writer Seth Lochhead discussing the film's brushes with allusion and symbolism.

"Chemical Reaction" (6:06, HD) deals with the film's music, with Wright, Holleran and Tom Rowlands of the Chemical Brothers discussing how the Chemical Brothers came to score the film, why they were the right choice, and what they came up with.

In "Anatomy of a Scene: The Escape from Camp G" (3:10, HD), Wright explains, using film footage and storyboards, how the sequence was conceived and executed.

"The Wide World of Hanna" (2:12, HD) is an EPK-style featurette with Holleran, Wright, Hollander, Ronan and production designer Sarah Greenwood commenting, and "Hanna Promo" (1:28, HD) appears to be a TV spot.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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