4.13.2011

Sometimes, Children Are Bad People Too.

HANNA (2011)
Hanna movie poster.
So I saw Hanna (2011) with the high expectations of opening night fever. Still licking my wounds over Sucker Punch (2011), I was pumped and ready to see some high-action young female heroine kicking some ass. But more than that--I was hungry for the plot, character development, and emotional intensity that Sucker Punch had so carelessly left me starving for. In short? I was ready for a disappointment. I was pleasantly surprised. Hanna skullfucked not only Sucker Punch, but also the majority of action films of the past decade. It was a legitimately good fucking movie, instead of this "yeah, well, I guess it was alright, and at least it was in 3-D" bullcrap we've been putting up for the better part of this young century (I said it once and I'll say it again--TAKE THAT, 3-D!). The worst part of Hanna was trying to figure out how I'd be able to write a decent, coherent review of the movie instead of just listing all the things it did right. In the end, I decided to list all the things it did right. In the style of my friends The MythBusters, because I feel like this movie went against the grain in so many ways. Why do I suddenly feel like I'm dating myself...?


Myth Busted: Children Are Angels.
Image from http://i2.blogs.indiewire.com
Saoirse Ronan. Be still my heart. And I don't mean that in a jailbait way. I mean that in a holy fuck, this kid can ACT way. She's one of the few young actress who hasn't sold herself out--in fact, every movie she seems to chose is an instant hit. I know her from Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones (2009), but she was also in Atonement (2007) and The Way Back (2010). I mean, really. When's she going to be in some Lifetime movie where she gets cancer and becomes a hooker and has an abortion? That aside, she really is amazing. And if she hasn't proved her acting chops yet, she does it with Hanna--the raised-in-the-woods super soldier of a naive 17 year old girl who knows little on human contact and lots on how-to-snap-necks-with-her-bare-hands. The thing is, I could've even done without the whole gene-mutation bit because I already got it from watching her train like hell in the middle of bumfuck nowhere--she's a lean, mean, fighting machine. 

Saoirse Ronan gets it all. She captures that innocence in her deer-like expressions, the quick animal instinct of shying away from what she's unfamiliar with. And then there's the flip side--the side of her that kills. Without an inch of remorse or regret for taking another human life. Even if she wasn't a child, or a woman this would be badass. If she was played by Jason Stathem, it would still be cool. However. She is a young girl, and because of that she's both more badass and there's a hint of some brilliant black comedy in the sight of someone so small taking down specialized man after specialized man. 


Myth Busted: Gay Men Can't Shoot.
This is not the Lord Beckett you're used to.
Or transsexual men. Or lumberjack dykes. Or whateverthefuck gender that German hitman was. Who knows, maybe he was just European. In any case, Tom Hollander fucking killed (literally) as "Isaacs", Marissa's hired hitman. He's got that thick German accent (which hasn't stopped being scary since WII), that terrifying whistle that near rivals Elle Driver's death whistle, and that happy-go-lucky attitude about murder that's enough to make anyone's skin crawl. Indeed, Tom Hollander is a deeply underrated chameleon in the acting world. Probably because no one can recognize him every time he slips into a new skin. Here's to a sadistic performance I'm at least not going to forget anytime soon.


Myth Busted: Heroines Need A Love Interest. 
Or, frankly, that any love needs to exist in an action movie...at all. Alright, so we had some romantic tension with Erik and Hanna's mother, I suppose, but that was more for the sake of the "red herring", throwing the audience off their tracks (and anyway, he's Eric Bana, you can't go an entire movie without at least one woman batting her eyes at him). But American action flicks have this weird thing with interjecting some forced romantic plot in between all the guns and muscle. Alright, we understand that firearms turn us all on and naturally we want the BAMF characters to get laid, but it's extraordinarily rare that an action movie is able to fit a natural, believable romance into all the rest of the badassitry. It's that fireworks kiss moment that is supposed to give the women a little something to look forward to when they just came to the theater to appease their husbands/boyfriends/butches.

Image from beyondhollywood.com
I suppose Hanna felt like it could get away with cutting out the "mushy stuff" since it would bring in it's own brand of female viewers with the young girl protagonist. Whatever the case, I'm glad they didn't try to shove it in. Sure, there's a cute underage crush going on, plus we have a small "coming of age" bit where Hanna does her best to attempt to blend in with "the real world". And, for a moment, the writers had me scared that we wouldn't be able to get through a female protagonist movie without showing obligatory skin. But once again, Hanna's kick-assitry dominated, and the movie was all the better for it. That is. Unless you count the pseudo-lesbian romance between Hanna and her BFF Sofie. On any normal occasion, I'd say that this was all in my fevered dyke imagination and I was sticking sexual tension where it didn't belong. And this is one of those times where I'd be totally happy waxing poetic on Sofie and Hanna's lovely little sistamance they've got going on. And I think it is lovely and captures the innocence of a young friendship really nicely but...there's something undeniably intimate about the two of them. The focus in on the small touches, the sound of their breaths, the closeness...there's a sexual edge about it. And I don't necessarily mean that in the "bowchicawowow, so when are they getting it on?" way I usually mean it, but rather...I think the film manages to capture the fact that young women have these close friendships that do have a tendency to get extraordinarily intimate. But maybe that's just the dyke in me talking, straight women feel free to correct me.


Myth Busted: Hollywood Is The Real Deal.
Eric Bana as Erik. Convenient, no?
What I loved about this movie was how completely organic it was. The characters never acted in the way characters were "supposed" to act. Daddy never said "I love you" to his daughter, he never left her with parting words of how proud he was of her and how he just "knew she could do it". Instead, he told to take out the fucking trash and let the door swing shut behind him. And when Marissa has Daddy Dearest on his knees, bleeding, ready to face his death, and she asks him "Why now?", his final words aren't exceptionally powerful, or cookie-cutter crafted to give the trailer a nice punch. Instead, he says, simply: "Children grow up". And that's it. Simple, organic, and completely human.

Eric Bana aside, we do have a "family" family unit in this movie. And this family has none of that "prom is the most important day of your life" bullshit Hollywood feeds the young generation like a pedophile with lollipops. Instead, they poke fun at it with a "boy crazy" daughter, yoga-and-yogurt neo-hippy mother, and pussy whipped husband (played by two extraordinarily talented Brits, Olivia Williams and Jason Flemyng respectively). Rock on.


Myth Busted: All Woman Villains Are Dominatrixes.
Image from screenrant.com
Alright. So I guess I didn't quite bust this myth here. However, whenever there's a woman villain in an action flick, she usually wears latex, tosses coy smirks the hero's way, and accentuates her tits whenever possible. Villain Dominatrix. And I'll start by saying Marissa is indeed sadistic. Make no bones about it. She'll do whatever it takes to get the job done. But she won't push up her boobs to do it. And she's got some very human masochistic flaws in her. It's said that dentists have the highest suicide rate of any profession, and so it only makes sentence that she picks at her teeth painfully like some Macbethian grandmother-eating wolf. More on that later. Cate Blanchett has proven again and again that she can slip into any skin--from the polar opposite twins in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) to Jude AKA Bob Dylan in I'm Not There (2007) and rounding it up with a motherfucking elf. I mean, is there anything this woman can't do?


Myth Busted: That Was SO 90s.


Techno and strobe lights are back in a big way. I don't know if it was the anachronistic German setting that made this acceptable or just the fact that the director managed to meld them both in some of the most seriously badass action scenes I've seen in a while. All I can say is I went out and picked up a Chemical Brothers CD after this, no joke.


Myth Busted: The 21st Century Can't Do Fairytales.
Twilight fucked things up. Then we have Red Riding Hood (2011), which looks like Twilight Part 2. And then the Beauty and the Beast rip off, where his "disfiguration" was that...he had a shit ton of tattoos? Bitch, please. I've seen scarier punks strutting up and down St. Mark's Place. Just when everything was looking Grimm for 21st century fairytales, Hanna steps in. Sure, it's a straight up action woman warrior movie, but it's laden with fairytale symbolism from the start. From the subtle "little girl from the woods" bit to the more obvious amusement park house, the movie weaves it in enough to make a great modern day fairytale without being particularly heavy-handed. And then Marissa literally steps out of the jaws of a wolf. What can I say? It's just plain fun.

The long and short of it? Hanna was fucking badass and will blow every inch of your mind. See it immediately. 

26 comments:

  1. I love how you incorporated MYTHBUSTERS with your review!

    HANNA was f***ing awesome, I'm so glad I saw it!

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  3. Thanks! I get weird impulses. Mythbusters was apparently the impulse of the day.

    Hanna really was the shit. Pure and simple. Definitely a breath of fresh air for action-loving chicks.

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  4. You're self-described "weird impulses" are pure blogging gold! While I cannot rejoice in the Hanna-pened shower of praise (I haven't been fortunate enough to see it yet), I can still appreciate your "mythbusting" review style. Well-done!

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  5. Hellagood review in true unique fashion. Twilight utterly ruined tweens and teens, giving young girls and women a heroine who's little more than a throwback to the supper with heels and makeup days. I am so goddamned happy to see a character like Hanna. There was a glimpse of her in Kick-Ass with Hit-Girl.

    I am exponentially ashamed that I have not seen this yet and could kick my own ass, but time and money must coincide. Hopefully this Friday, the young one and I will embark on our girl power adventure.

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  6. @ Matt--Thanks! The pat on the back is appreciate as always. I'm glad you got a kick out of it--always good to know I'm not the only one with the odd sense of humor.

    @ Melissa--Amen to that! Twilight makes me angry on so many levels. I just...don't understand how it became so popular. At all. My faith in humanity has faltered a little bit. So Hanna definitely rekindles a little old faith. And Kick-Ass is one of those I've somehow still neglected to see...I really have to get on that.

    Time and money is definitely a problem. I probably see about 10% of the things I plan to see in theaters just because New York City ticket prices are fucking ridiculous. Especially 3-D movies. You really might as well go see a Broadway show. But good luck getting them together--I'm psyched to hear your response!

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  7. I hear you on the ticket prices. Chicago's just as high. I'd have to sell a kidney if I ever decided to get a snack at the theater.

    Twilight is the bane of my existence and a blight on the literary world. I am at a loss as to explain it's popularity. I tried reading it just to see and I was aghast at the bad writing and the weak ass Bella. I could not even finish it. Like you, my faith in humanity faltered with the book's meteoric rise and the film's. I thought, how far have women come, only to be reduced to this?

    See Kick-Ass, Chloe Moretz is a great little actress who has one of the best fight scenes on film. I wished she was the main character. Chloe is also in Let Me In where she plays a wicked vampire. She would totally kick Edward's nuts in.

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  8. Buying snacks at the deli beforehand is really the only way to go. The theater is just straight up ridiculous.

    And word. To everything you said about Twilight. One of my favorite parodies is here (http://theoatmeal.com/story/twilight), I think you'll enjoy it. It's the small things that make me appreciate life again.

    Kick-Ass is definitely on my list. I've seen people throw Chloe Moretz' name around, so I'm completely intrigued, especially after seeing Hanna. Apparently little girls kicking ass is my new thing. And damn right Chloe would kick Edward's nuts! But then again, so would that little paperclip helping that appears at the top of my word document now and then asking me if I need grammar help, so I'm not sure that's a high compliment.

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  9. LMAO!!! Thanks for sharing this little wicked little gem. I have this bookmarked for future viewing when I need a laugh and I'm going to pass it on.

    Yeah, Paper clip guy could kick Edward's nuts in. Hell, I could and I can't kick very high.

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  10. Allllways a pleasure to spread the love. And glad you enjoyed!

    Amen to that, sista. He's a short one, I don't think it'd matter much.

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  11. Fantasic review, M.! And I'm thrilled that you loved the movie and soundtrack.

    I didn't get a chance to mention Hollander in my review, but shit was he a great villain. So many memorable characters in this, despite there being so few overall. Rare to see a film with a batting average that high. Hollander was new to my eyes (at least that I can recall - I saw he was in some POTC flicks, but don't recall him in them, for example), but I'll be keeping an eye out.

    Best review I've read all week, and probably longer. This will be making the State next week. (Only complaint is that it's a bit spoiler-heavy.)

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  12. Wow, thanks, Fletch! That's a huge compliment! I'm glad it caught your eye and you deemed it State-worthy! It's definitely spoiler-heavy, but that's kinda how I roll.

    Hollander is one of those actors that almost slips you by; his characters are so believable it's hard to remember that there's actually an actor behind there. I saw him in POTC, but I didn't recognize him one bit in Hanna, I only realized it was him after imdbing the movie later. He was SUCH a terrifying but brilliant villain that definitely needs more praise, since Marissa is so badass she basically takes over everyone's reviews.

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  13. Loooooove this review, totally captures everything great about the film and so much that's shitty about modern action movies. I also dig the Mythbusters angle.

    I was going to sit down and write my own review of this movie tonight, actually! But I don't think I'll have any good input to add after your excellent points.

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  14. Thanks! I mean, fair is fair, I do like modern action movies. When I'm high and/or watching them at 3 am with a group of five friends. But there's little substance there. Hanna has all the good action, the good music, the good everything, AND it has substance. Glad you dig the Mythbusters!

    You should write your own review! My review is basically me nerdgasming for way too many words, I love checking out other people's reviews of this awesome flick.

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  15. Very cool review! Hanna was one of the better movies of 2011!

    Also: thanks for following us\linking us. We really appreciate it. We have done the same.

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  16. Thanks! I agree with you there, definitely one of the better movies of 2011, if not 2000s period.

    And no problem! I'm happy to support fellow badass bloggers. Thanks for returning the favor!

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  17. Based on the movie trailer and synopsis for "Hanna," I wasn't interested in watching the movie, so I've been ignoring it lately but after reading your review, I may have changed my mind.

    So now I have to go watch three movies (Source Code, Scream 4 and now HANNA too) that I'm behind on all while trying to work and watch other movies that I need to review anyway....and it's ALL your fault! LOL

    The Madlab Post

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  18. I know exactly what you mean! I keep reading other peoples reviews and and adding to my already ginormous pile of movies I have to see and review.

    I'm glad (and flattered) my review may have changed your mind! Clearly, I loved this movie, and I'd recommend it to anyone, so I definitely say see it! But I haven't seen Source Code or Scream 4, so I can't prioritize for you. Good luck on your movie watching!

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  19. You, sir, have made the best, most coherent review I've read all week. So there's that.

    Olivia Williams is, was, and always will be the shit. People who try to compete are just embarassing themselves.

    As for the teen-girl-closeness thing, from what I can tell, it's partly from a general acceptance of girls hugging and whatnot, and partly in juxtaposition with the absolute opposite view of boys doing the same.

    Strobe light action sequences are never out. They make everything delightfully hallucigenic.

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  20. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

    Olivia Williams is definitely the shit. I have a friend who's obsessed with British television and so she introduced me to Olivia Williams before this movie, and I was thrilled to see her here as a bit of a sexpot. Especially working along side Jason Flemyng, they had an excellent chemistry!

    I have to agree with you there--since American society is somehow cool with women being close and not cool with men getting anywhere near each other (unless it's a gladiator style death match), women have a habit of experiencing those "intimate friendships" well into their lives. And, gotta say, I love the way this movie articulated that.

    Delightfully hallucigenic! I'll have to remember that.

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  21. great review, as usual. I loved that it didn't follow the predictable route, which would have been to kill off Bana early so Hanna would be completely left to her own devices. She kicked plenty of ass as it was, but his kickassery here made her superior skills all the more believable. I just loved the ending too. perfect.

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  22. What a novel way to write a review! Nice going.

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  23. @ Brent--Thanks, homie! I agree, I definitely appreciated being able to follow Bana's character. And somehow watching HIM be BAMF made it so much more awesome that a little girl could be just as cool as him. And definitely added to the realism, since he clearly taught her everything he knew.

    @ Alfred--Thanks, bro! I definitely had fun mixing it up.

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  24. Excellent review again sir! I too thought it was great, but felt that the plot lost itself somewhere in the middle. Bana was a great BAMF especially in the steady-cam shot in the Berlin U-Bahn - very cool.

    For those not familiar with Tom Hollander; yes he was in POTC, but I urge you all to see In The Loop (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1226774/). It's a British political satire, but you don't have to know anything about British politics; but don't watch if you are easily offended by a LOT of swearing! I've never heard a cinema audience laugh as much as when I saw this!

    Keep up the great reviews!

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  25. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it! I can see that. Eric Bana is always a bamf, one of the more underrated bamfs, actually.

    And it's so funny that you would mention that, because I have actually seen In The Loop and I TOTALLY didn't realize he was in that! I also watched TV show, The Thick Of It, which was also completely brilliant. I know little about British politics, but I do know that I'm officially in love with angry Scottish men.

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