Q&A: Hanna

Do you have any opinions on the movie Hanna (2011)? The fight scenes specifically

Without actually digging up a copy of the film and watching the entire thing, not especially. I did find clips on YouTube, so, this is more first impressions than a review.

The soundtrack’s good. I’ve got a soft spot for The Chemical Brothers, but this is very good. The premise isn’t bad, maybe a little stale at this point, but that’s not a serious criticism. The acting I’ve seen pretty good. Credit to Saoirse Ronan, she was given a difficult character to play, and nailed it, in every scene I’ve watched.

I’m not sure how old Hanna supposed to be (I think 16, but I’m reading off her file on screen, and it’s out of focus), but Saoirse was 17 as of the film’s shooting. With the character’s background, that’s old enough to where she could be a legitimate threat to adults. This isn’t one of those child fighter scenarios, she’s old enough to be doing most of what she’s doing. Also, this is before we consider that Hanna was genetically modified, which starts screwing up that baseline even further. (I’m not going into how absurd it is to genetically engineer someone to be a better assassin, that’s just part of the premise.)

There is a “but” coming, the choreography leaves me cold. This is mostly just normal stage fighting. It’s not badly performed. However, if you know it, you can see where strikes whiff, where the hits don’t connect, or are superficial without any real power behind the impact. This results in a kind of weightlessness. If you’re familiar with combat, it looks fake. It is fake, but the illusion isn’t there. That’s unfortunate, this is a film that deserved better choreography. To be fair, this seems to be more of an issue with the stunt actors rather than the main cast.

Now, there’s a slight trick here, though I think it’s unintentional. The first fight in the film is between Saoirse Ronan and Eric Bana. Their choreography is competent, and, as result, it’s a good sequence. Unfortunately, what follows isn’t as good. First impressions are important, and if you watched the film in sequence, it would be easy to come away with the impression that the film’s choreography as a whole was much better because of that introduction. If you watch it out of sequence, then that first impression never happens, and the shortcomings are more apparent.

So, the short answer would be: my opinion is cautiously positive. The fight scenes are nothing special, but that’s not really the point of the film. Obviously, having only seen pieces of it, I’m not really in a position to give a comprehensive narrative analysis.

-Starke

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