In the past week or so, I've come across several lists of the toughest chicks in fiction. Some of these were for chicks in movies. Some for television. Some for both. Some from literature. None of these lists included Hanna, and for that, I think they are all lacking. Yes, even the literature lists should have included Hanna; she's that kick butt! In fact, she's so kick butt, I'm sure that that's where that movie came from. Someone said, "Hey! Let's make a movie about a young girl that can kick butt like no body's business!"
Someone else tried to ruin the party by saying, "But, wait, why can she kick so much butt?"
And that's where it all fell apart.
The movie, Hanna, is strung together on the very thinnest of plots. I mean Run, Lola, Run thin, but that one works better, because that's all the movie's supposed to be about. But the makers of Hanna, evidently, wanted the movie to appear as if it contains substance, so they tried to write a story as to why Hanna can and does kick so much butt. And I say makers, because I have no idea who might be at fault for this ill-conceived notion. Was it just bad writing from the start? Did the director dispense with the story in favor of the action? Did the producers demand it? Also, speaking of Lola, and I didn't time it, but I would guess somewhere close to 1/3 of Hanna is actually just music video of (mostly) her just running. Or crawling. Being chased, at any rate. Sometimes it's Erik.
Having said all of that, if you like a good action flick and don't need much story, it's a great movie. My friend, who took me to see it, certainly liked it much better than I did. The fight scenes are well done, and there's plenty of suspense wrapped up in the action. And running. Lots of running. And I bet the director or the writer or someone thought they were being very clever by wrapping the movies ending up in a circle to tie it back to the opening. Oh, but wait, I'm letting my antipathy for the story slip back in there.
The biggest issue with the story is that it resorts to the "big reveal" in order to explain the story all at once because it failed to provide the viewers with enough information as the movie progressed to figure anything out on their own. Really, I hate this. Especially since they could have allowed us the information throughout the movie by cutting out 10 minutes of running.
Let me just say, though, that I'm not dissing "the big reveal" in and of itself. It's often a necessary plot device, especially in mysteries; however, if done poorly, it can ruin what might have been a good story. Here's an example from a couple of similar movies that were released back-to-back:
1. The Prestige (Oct, 2006): A movie about two magicians obsessed with learning how the other has performed a career-making trick. The clues are provided throughout the movie. If the viewer pays attention, s/he is able to put the pieces together and figure it out in advance. Or, at least, parts of it. When the big reveal (the prestige) comes, it is only to fill in viewers who may not have caught all of the clues. Very well done. [I own this movie, by the way. Hugh Jackman is excellent. It's also the type of movie that is better on a second or third viewing as you can see how the puzzle pieces are being put together.]
2. The Illusionist (Sept, 2006): Another movie about a magician pulling off an extraordinary illusion. The illusion is, in effect, the plot. The key to the movie. However, the movie fails to provide the information needed for the viewer to figure out the puzzle, so, during the big reveal, there are flashbacks with allow us to see all of the pieces that were not actually shown the first time through. Basically, the audience is not allowed to figure it out in process but thrown all of the left out pieces at the very end in order to see the whole picture. I find this to be a very cheap trick. Basically, the writer could not figure out a way to seed the story with the pieces needed so just withheld them all. This is the tactic Hanna uses.
Just a note: I think the best usage of the big reveal, at least in any recent movie, was The Sixth Sense. In fact, Shyamalan did it so well in that movie that it has sustained him for more than a decade of increasingly worse movies. That was free.
There was one other very positive aspect of Hanna: the acting. Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett are both excellent. In fact, they are the two characters that give the movie any sort of depth and weight. Saoirse Ronan (Hanna) does a fine job, but I haven't seen her in anything else, so I'm not sure if it was acting ability or just the way she is.
Well, I hope you still had your pop culture hats on from last time, but you can take them off now. At least, for a little while.