Hanna [Blu-Ray] Joe Wright

Hanna [Blu-Ray] Joe Wright
Hanna is compelling evidence that a talented director unaccustomed to shooting within a genre can create a fresh and uniquely realized take that transcends traditional trappings. Joe Wright (Atonement) pulls out all the stops, making the cinematic equivalent of a tastefully crafted progressive rock song. He expertly utilizes a plethora of filmmaking techniques to tell a tonally ambitious modern fable about a young girl leaving the safety of home to experience the world for the first time. Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) is Hanna, 16 years old, raised in the snowy wilderness of Scandinavia, trained to be the ultimate assassin by her father (Eric Bana). When we first encounter our heroine, she's hunting a buck. Her first shot wounds, but doesn't kill. Looking down at the dying beast, and resultantly, directly into the camera, devoid of emotion, she states, "I just missed your heart" before administering the kill shot, a stark red title card flashing in time with the report from her gun barrel. Further background on Hanna's harshly disciplined upbringing is displayed via training scenes and conversations between the father and daughter, where the Darwinian sentiment of "adapt or die" is treated as gospel. Adept at fighting and killing, and a comfortable multilinguist, with an overly rehearsed cover story as a normal girl, Hanna decides she's ready to leave the nest, alerting government agent Marissa (Cate Blanchett) to her location as part of a plan the audience and Marissa are likewise in the dark about the motivations of. There's a visual consistency in this first act – gracefully composed camera movement and interesting shot perspectives – that evolves along with the story. After Hanna is captured by the military, and subsequently escapes, highly stylized and inventively choreographed action sequences bleed into an elliptically edited chase, the kaleidoscopic visuals complemented perfectly by an invigorating and disorienting score by the Chemical Brothers. Sound effects and music blend together, aiding in the creation of a propulsive, visceral journey packed with audacious filmmaking decisions. The cast is uniformly magnificent, the unsettling quirks of Blanchett's obsessive, gum bloodying teeth cleaning and Tom Hollander as a German assassin with a penchant for lip gloss and whistling a catchy nursery-rhyme-gone-wrong theme contrast nicely with Ronan's mechanical effectiveness and single-minded drive. The fairy tale aspects of the story are highlighted in Blu-Ray feature "Central Intelligence Allegory." Wright discusses the fairly obvious, but not too in-your-face character archetype templates and cops to his MacGuffin – the twist goes a long way towards justifying the high stylization, beyond the simple fact that it makes for consistently exciting viewing. "Adapt or Die" is a look behind-the-scenes at Ronan and Bana's training, and Wright's learning curve as an action director. A couple of deleted scenes fill in gaps that can easily be inferred by viewers. An alternate ending is more fascinating, though I doubt anyone will question the final cut. The Chemical Brothers chime in on their process in voice only and "Anatomy of a Scene" is merely a description, rather than a depiction of the wildly imaginative escape scene. A couple of missed opportunities, but "The Wide World of Hanna" does a good job of highlighting the wonderful location choices and Joe Wright's feature commentary is refreshingly self-critical and informative. Worry not, Joe, Hanna is easily one of the year's best and a stunning example of the exhilarating perspective a misogyny-free mind can bring to a genre typically ruled by status-quo enforcing, testosterone-fuelled fantasy ideals. (Alliance)