Some people seem to draw parallels between Hanna and Mathew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass but the similarities are somewhat superficial. One is traditional, intelligent action thriller about a youthful female assassin. The other is a tongue-in-cheek neo-exploitation movie, involving a preteen vigilante. The more you compare them the greater the differences become. So, let us start by dismissing such erroneous comparisons.
One of the most compelling reason to see Hanna is Saoirse Ronan's performance, previously seen in Atonement and Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. It is precise and utterly compelling. Another selling point is Joe Wright's tight and well measured direction. This is a real revelation as his previous works tend to be costume pieces or worthy human dramas. Yet he shows a real feel for the genre proving that some directors can successfully change verticals (unlike Marc Forster, who struggled to grasp the concept of a Bond movie, with Quantum of Solace).
The plot is a straight forward affair about an individual raised in isolation and subsequently discovering on contact with the real world, that they are “different”. There is the implication that Hanna is not only the product of her upbringing, by ex-assassin Eric Bana, but potentially the child of a genetic experiment. Once the initial premise has been established, the script is essentially a series of action sequences, shot in a very contemporary fashion (hence achieving its PG-13/12A rating). The story is neatly structured although formulaic, with a twist ending that really isn't that much of a revalation.
Yet director Joe Wright manages to expand the story's subtext, providing more rounded characters than you would expect in a genre piece such as this. Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander, provide superior performances as the films antagonists. The score by the Chemical brothers is another innovative aspect that should be applauded. Soundtracks in the action movies are so often perfunctory, these days. Hanna overall is pure escapism but is elevated above the mundane by the significant talent of Joe Wright. Let us hope that he continues to experiment with different genres.