Hanna is the kind of action movie I enjoy, where you understand the visual language. You see a lot without explanation, and what you don’t quite see often tells more of the story. Modern audiences may call this revolutionary. Let’s go with “old school.”
In her first scene hunting a deer, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) disappears instantly with a camera move. We always see stealthy killers disappearing in a cut, but it means a lot more to show it fluidly. Hanna’s been trained out in the snow by her father, Erik (Eric Bana). If the deer didn’t convince you, her fight with Erik shows you she’s got skills.
Marisa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) is introduced dramatically, from behind during her daily routine. That pays off later when she brushes her teeth with less confidence. Wiegler provides a brief dossier, something genetic about Hanna and covert about Erik. She’s the bad guy.
I’m being glib because I think it’s perfect that they don’t over explain too much. Eventually you learn exactly what’s special about Hanna but only when it dramatically pays off. As far as I’m concerned they could leave it vague. We just need to know there’s a basic relationship and antagonism. The story and the actors deliver the gravitas without explaining this is why they’re acting this way.
You completely understand the methodology of Hanna’s skills. When she escapes, you don’t exactly see all her moves but you know what she’s doing and how she’s leveraging her opponents. In a flashback for Wiegler, you hear a car crashing off camera, because what’s important is Wiegler’s action. A gunfight has all to do with Wiegler reaching her gun some distance ahead of her.
Hanna is not just an action thriller though. Hanna hooks up with a traveling family in an RV. Their daughter, Sophie (Jessica Barden), is such a spoiled brat it’s an adorable counterpoint. When her mom (Olivia Williams) asks Hanna how her mom, her blunt honesty is priceless.
This is all a very technical way of saying Hanna is awesome. The action is cool, the characters are memorable and it’s made in a clear, exciting way.