So few big budget films these days are truly original. Whether based on a book, a TV series, or a remake or sequel (or even prequel) of a pre-existing film, most blockbusters these days are not entirely original. Joe Wright's "Hanna" (2011) is an exception. With a fantastic leading performance from one of the most promising young actresses of our generation, Saoirse Ronan, a truly gripping story and gorgeous scenery and visuals, "Hanna" is a film I would recommend to any movie-lover - though perhaps not one of delicate constitution.
Hanna (Ronan) and her father Erik (the brilliant Eric Bana) live utterly isolated and without electricity or modern comforts in the snowy forests of northern Finland. Hanna has no memory of other humans or another lifestyle - they hunt for their food and skin animals for their clothes. She has never even heard the sound of music. Erik has trained Hanna to be a deadly weapon, fluent in multiple dialects and without fear. But why? When Hanna decides she is finally ready for her mysterious mission out in the real world, our story begins!
This story is as varying in tone and content as it is in scenery. Hanna moves from Finland through Morocco and Spain as she finds her way to Germany. She is constantly trailed and hunted by CIA operatives and German assassins. Ronan is, as always, stunning in her performance. She is totally convincing as a fierce and brutal killing machine and at the same time, beautifully portrays a lost teenage girl who has never known friends or a mother. Ronan has shown amazing talent since she was very young, taking one of the leading roles in Joe Wright's "Atonement" (2007) at just 13 and at 15 starring in the tragic "Lovely Bones". She has a great presence in every role she takes on and has played characters more challenging than most actors will in their entire career. This performance allows her to begin to grow up as an actress as Hanna grows up as a person.
Joe Wright, who is known for directing visually stunning pieces, such as 2005's "Pride and Prejudice" and more recently "Anna Karenina", has once again provided us with stunning visuals as he takes us on Hanna's dangerous journey across continents. Every scene is different and every scene is captivating. This is not only one of the best original films of recent years, but perhaps one of the best period.