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...?
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.
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.
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.
|Image from beyondhollywood.com|
Myth Busted: Hollywood Is The Real Deal.
|Eric Bana as Erik. Convenient, no?|
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.