“Jason Bourne: The Next Generation.”
“What did your mother die of?”
That matter-of-fact answer, provided by Hanna (Ronan) over dinner with a friend and her family, sums up the character perfectly. While Bourne was seeking to recover his identity, this 16-year old girl never had one to begin with. She was brought up in the wilds of Finland, hunting deer, learning languages and training in hand-to-hand combat with her father, Erik Heller (Bana); she knows nothing of music, for example. Eventually, she is deemed ready, and the switch is flipped on a transmitter, revealing their location to Marissa Wiegler (Blanchett), Heller’s former CIA handler, and putting the pieces into play. Turns out Wiegler and Heller go back to before Hanna’s birth, and he has been waiting all this time to unleash his daughter against the woman who played a very important part in her development. Wiegler captures Hanna, but she escapes, and makes her way from Morocco to Berlin, and the intended rendezvous with her father, Wiegler and her minions in hot pursuit.
I liked this a good deal. As well as Bourne, it blended in a lot of elements from traditional fairy tales. Wiegler is Hanna’s wicked stepmother (the dynamic between the pair is particularly interesting), and Bana like the hunter in Snow White who disobeys orders, refusing to kill her. Regrettably, at no point does Hanna hang out with any midgets, even cool ones like the Half-Pint Brawlers. But she certainly proves more than capable of handling herself physically, as is shown in her escape from custody: dealing with the rest of humanity…well, maybe not so much. There’s also more than a touch of Run Lola Run, with the heroine galloping round Berlin, accompanied by a banging techno score (here, by The Chemical Brothers).
It might have benefited from showing Hanna’s skills a bit more; there’s nothing quite as cool for her as the sequence where, in a single camera-shot, her father comes out of the station, goes into a Berlin subway and wipes the floor with four minions. However, it easily qualifies for inclusion here, and Ronan’s performance grounds this and gives it an emotional heart in a way not often found in the genre.
Dir: Joe Wright
Star: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander