AWFJ Women On Film – “Hanna” – Susan Granger reviews

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Father Knows Best takes on a whole new meaning when a teenage warrior – played by ethereal-looking Saoirse Ronan (“The Lovely Bones,” “Atonement”) – ventures out into the cold, cruel world, where she’s forced to fight for her life.

Spending her isolated childhood in a cabin in the rugged, remote forests of northern Finland, Hanna has been trained as an assassin/spy by her widower, rogue CIA-agent, father, Erik (Erica Bana), learning not only to defend herself but also to get what she wants. Now 16, she has strength, stamina and determination – plus appealing innocence that’s coupled with insatiable curiosity about music. So Hanna and her father go their separate ways, promising to meet in a specific location in Germany.

After purposely igniting a signal that’s intercepted by ruthlessly malevolent CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), Hanna is captured by heavily-armed storm-troopers and held for interrogation and observation in a bunker beneath the Moroccan desert.

“Did she turn out as you’d hoped?” inquires one of Weigler’s henchmen. “Better,” she replies.

Outwitting her abductors, Hanna escapes, joining a friendly British hippie family on vacation while cleverly eluding a wily team of pursuers. In the meantime, much is revealed about Hanna’s increasingly mysterious origin and lineage, culminating in an intriguing chase through a decaying Grimm Brothers-themed amusement park and violent, climactic confrontation with menacing Marissa Wiegler.

Wirtten by Seth Lockhead and David Farr and directed by Joe Wright (“The Soloist,” “Atonement,” “Pride and Prejudice”), this humorless pursuit thriller was filmed on location in Morocco and Germany, specifically the now-defunct Spree Park in eastern Berlin. Much credit goes to cinematographer Alwin Kucher for the enticing impact of Hanna’s travails, along with the striking score by the Chemical Brothers. And, in preparation, Ronan trained in martial arts, including stick and knife fighting, five to six hours a day for six weeks.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Hanna” sprints in with an action-packed 7 – and Saoirse (pronounced SEER-shah) Ronan plays another adolescent assassin, teaming with “Gilmore Girls” Alexis Bledel, in the upcoming “Violet & Daisy.”

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