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You didn't prepare me for this.


Hanna
(2011)

I thought Joe Wright's Atonement was half of a decent film (the first half) and The Soloist was star-powered with little else to recommend it. This, however, suggests he's not all about assembling casts and cynically chasing prestige projects. 

For a start, he shows he has far better chops as an action director that many who have made it their profession. He shoots his scenes clearly and comprehensibly so that, for all the Bourne-ness of the film's premise (CIA tracks down kid/dad super agents who have a murky history that the agency doesn't want revealed), it bears little resemblance to shakycam thrills. The plot may be so-so, and hyper-violent minors suddenly seem like an overburdened sub-genre (see also Kick-Ass), but Wright infuses it with a clear Grimm's fairy tale signature (maybe he saw the underrated Paul Walker thriller Running Scared, which overlayed a similar vibe on an ultra-violent urban thriller) and an ability to render note perfect performances from his cast. 

Saoirse Ronan is compelling in the lead role, completely unfamiliar with the populated world and social niceties. Either side of her are Eric Bana as the father figure (his best performance in a good while) and Cate Blanchett as the wicked witch (dependable, but nothing she hasn't done before). A word too for Tom Hollander's grotesque track-suited blonde henchman (whistling one of The Chemical Brothers' compositions) and the over-pronounced but resonant surrogate family that Hanna meets on her travels (Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng and Jessica Barden); Wright's composition of a scene of open separate shipping crates is as off-kilter and surreal as Hanna's visit to Grimm's theme park.

**** 

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