Joe Wright has laid out his cards with Hanna. He's a director who's work I have liked almost without exception up to this point, but he's been swimming in very safe waters. Sure his respective adaptations of both Pride And Prejudice and Atonement were elegant, often exemplary pieces of work, but many British directors do period well, about as many that simply fail to transition to making movies in the contemporary. But Hanna shows that Wright can be a very different kind of story-teller, one who can do innovative as well as elegant, and Hanna, although in many ways is quite a generic movie with quite a generic script that occasionally veers into awful, manages still to be a pretty cool movie purely off the back of how Wright puts it together.
The story though, is pretty much recycled child assassin stuff, following Soarsie Ronan as she flees the CIA and attempts revenge on the agent who killed her mother, played amusingly by Cate Blanchett, whilst her father/guardian Eric Bana goes on his own rampage of killing government types, mostly to give the story something to cut to. Everything is paper thin, and there's little substance to Blanchett's villain or Bana's father figure. Even Ronan goes through that robot girl in the real world arc, these movies enjoy so well. And yet the are so many scenes in Hanna that had me on the edge of my seat, a sequence where Ronan escapes a CIA facility is the most exhilarating action scene I've seen in quite a while, punctuated by an electrifying score by the Chemical Brothers and some pretty swag creativity from Wright. Bana's pretty superfluous subplot is made awesome by at least two fantastically shot scenes of violence, and a flashback to the moment Blanchett set everything in motion was similarly impressive. She has tried to play the villain a couple of times before, usually with accents of some kind, but this is her most successful venture. Her southern accent, plus some nicely deadpan moments make the character pretty engaging, Bana too, gives the best performance he's given in a while.
But the film was going to live or die on Ronan, and yet again she does everything that could be asked of her, giving a performance that's pleasingly sincere and engaging and I'd Imagine we're in the first stage of a 50 year long movie career. But more then anything out of Hanna, I hope it gets Wright some more interesting work because he's shown that rather then simply have one round in his chamber, this film kind of shows he's got several. And I think this film transitions him from a director who usually makes good films to someone's who's films are worth watching simply if his name is on them. Its rare for me to like a film in spite of bad writing, but I think its happened here, and how.