Features

‘Hanna’ offers action and innocence

Saoirse Ronan is shown in a scene from “Hanna.”
Saoirse Ronan is shown in a scene from “Hanna.”

In a remote, snowy forest in the far north, a figure in camouflage stalks a reindeer with bow and arrow.

An arrow flies, the deer tumbles off across a lake to die an agonizing death. But the hunter, a teenage girl, gives chase.

“I just missed your heart,” she observes, and then dispatches the beast, skins and dresses it.

Her dad (Eric Bana) is the only one not impressed by her prowess.

“You must always be ready,” he warns. “Adapt. Or die!”

What he has raised here north of the Arctic Circle is a strong, resourceful and remorseless killing machine.

And what he has in mind for her is the heart of “Hanna,” a furious, neck-snapping thriller that summons up memories of a dozen other movies and manages to improve on most of them.

Saoirse Ronan (“The Lovely Bones”) has the title role, a wily, physically fit and lethal girl who announces “I’m ready” and proceeds to take down a few of the commandos who arrive when she switches on the transponder that gives away Dad’s location.

Father Erik was an agent who went rogue and disappeared. Now, Hanna must pay for his sins, or get his revenge.

The drawling beast of a boss (Cate Blanchett at her sinister best) is Hanna’s target. “She won’t stop until you’re dead, or she is,” Dad has warned.

So Hanna has her mission. Who will kill whom in this lightning-fast chase across North Africa and Europe?

“Hanna” doesn’t so much sprint across the screen as pulsate, pounding from Morocco to Spain and north to Berlin to the beat of a breathless Chemical Brothers score.

One of the biggest surprises in all this is that “Hanna” is from the director of “Atonement,” “The Soloist” and “Pride & Prejudice.”

Joe Wright, working from a script by Seth Lochhead and David Farr (the Brit spy series “MI-5”), delivers jolts, menace and action-movie problem-solving aplenty.

This is a “Bourne” movie where the hero is a girl utterly naive to the real world. She’s never seen a city, never been kissed. But it’s the big, bad world that had better be on its guard.

Wright and the writers work in plenty of references to earlier classic thrillers. There’s a chase through an empty amusement park, a villain who fidgets with ball bearings, another (Tom Hollander, the deadly, officious fop in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies) who whistles and is a throwback to the Golden Age of Hollywood gay clichés, the homicidal homosexual sadist.

That lethal combination makes “Hanna” alternately nerve-racking and funny, a thriller that is every bit as ruthlessly efficient and merciless as its titular heroine.



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