I really wanted to like Hanna. Sure, the premise is ridiculous, but there was something appealing about a globetrotting female teenage assassin. I thought the fairy tale elements I had heard about sounded original and borderline literary. I thought Eric Bana's agent had finally chosen a decent script.
Of course such indulgent expectations were never met. Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a young girl living in Finland. All she knows of life comes from her father, with whom she lives off the land hunting and trapping, an outdated single-volume encyclopedia which is the sum of her formal education, and her own instincts. It turns out the pair are hiding from a shady CIA sub-director named Marissa Wiegler (Blanchett) because reasons. The father (Bana) has been grooming Hanna to assassinate this director. It is unclear why. We later learn Hanna has a motive for revenge - but she doesn't learn this until well after she is given the chance to kill Marissa. It could mean they no longer have to hide in an arctic wilderness, but surely data disks and carbon-copied memos and all those willing subordinates? Like actual fairy tales, the why doesn't seem to matter very much.
It would seem, then, it's been left up to the action to carry the film, but where is it? Hanna is given a way to announce herself to a roomful of operatives just waiting for a 15-year-old transmitter to activate, and is brought into headquarters to face Wiegler. Of course, things aren't what they seem, and Hanna must escape the facility. It's an interesting sequence, all two and a half minutes of it. Indeed, the biggest problem in Hanna seems to be pacing, with a lot of eye-candy up front, a drawn out meandering second act that does nothing but maneuver these characters around Europe, and a fizzled finale. There are further shoot-outs, chases, and assassinations, and while I can admire their realism (the choreography and short duration of the fights, not how they relate to the plot), they take up such little time we're back to globetrotting, or exposition, or unusually late and gratuitous opportunities for Marissa Wiegler to kick puppies. Rarely did a scene feel necessary instead of merely discontinuous. Now here is a scene I suppose we're doing so the baddies can find out that she found out that they found out that she's in this city now, and so on. There is an extended sequence in north Africa where Hanna interacts for the first time with a normal human family (somebody's idea of normal, at any rate), and then tags along in their caravan with upbeat song and dance. The whole thing is odd. Our little assassin may have forgotten all about the first act, but the audience sure hasn't. Interlude or plot point? You decide, someone's got to.
Peculiar is the word here. I can't fault its originality, but this is a film where almost nobody's actions make any sense - not Hanna's, not her father's, and especially not Wiegler's. The grand reveal (essentially who and what Hanna is) is figured out by the audience in the first scene of dialogue, but requires two hours of film to reveal it to Hanna - and there are no consequences when it is. The villains are (intentionally) caricatured reconstructions from fairy tales - the evil spinster, the big bad wolf - but the hero doesn't fit the mold. Hanna is emotionless and sociopathic (with good reason, we find out), and therefore doesn't work as a relatable vessel. As for the father, his decisions are among the stupidest ever performed by a fictional protagonist since Police Academy.
And it's a shame, because there is some strong acting here. Ronan, Bana, and Blanchett's characters are inestimably likable (or unlikable, as needed). Blanchett's southern accent breaks in places, but it is a small detail - she's got the timbre of a villain down pat and that's what matters. The film watches like demo footage for Ronan, who doesn't get the chance to emote very often, but is put through a lot of physical activity, deliver lines in five languages, even work with the worst lighting department in the industry (were 70% of this film's outdoor shots done at 6 pm?).
It seems impossible not to compare Hanna to the Bourne movies. The similarities are many: both plots are utterly ridiculous barely serviceable in moving the story forward, both characters are similar having almost the exact same origin story, both are ostensibly action films. Except with Bourne the studios felt comfortable resting the dialogue and viewpoint squarely on Matt Damon's shoulders, where for some reason Ronan gave them cold feet. Instead Hanna is filled to the brim with a long line of friendly adults (cannon fodder, all) who show up to siphon the story momentarily before shoving off again. That Hanna is written to be a loner does not gel well with the attempts to give her people to care about, either.
5/10, because it is a film with very interesting goals, just falling disappointingly short