Hanna review: The Bourne-again assassin who"s going to make a killing

Hanna review: The Bourne-again assassin who"s going to make a killing

The Bourne-again assassin who”s going to make a killing

3:10 PM on 6th May 2011

Verdict: Joe Wright turns action director

Rating: 3 Star Rating

Hanna is the thinking person’s Kick-Ass: a non-exploitative, intelligent action thriller about a youthful female assassin.

The reason to see it is another mesmerising performance by Saoirse Ronan, who was the best thing in Atonement and even impressed in Peter Jackson’s disaster The Lovely Bones. She convinces as both a cold-blooded killer and an innocent encountering a frightening new world. She must be the finest child actress Ireland has produced.

The film starts magnificently, with a teenage girl called Hanna (Ronan) learning how to survive and kill in the wild, with the help of her strict but kindly father (Eric Bana). Both have German accents, but live near the Arctic Circle.

A shooting star: Saoirse Ronanis the finest child actress Ireland has produced

A shooting star: Saoirse Ronanis the finest child actress Ireland has produced

It soon becomes clear that, while he is trying to give her a rounded education with the help of Grimms’ fairy tales and an encyclopaedia, he’s also training her to be an assassin. She says she is ‘ready’, so he turns on a rescue beacon that will attract the attention of his former boss at the CIA (a steely Cate Blanchett). He makes good his escape and she waits to be captured.

From then on, the script is essentially a series of killings and chases, in the tradition of Run Lola Run, The Bourne Identity and Salt.

Some of the action requires a major suspension of disbelief, and plausible human motivation vanishes during the final 20 minutes. The script is neatly structured but shamelessly contrived, with a twist ending that isn’t enough of a shock.

Mesmerising: Saoirse Ronan stars as the teenage assassin in Hanna

Mesmerising: Saoirse Ronan stars as the teenage assassin in Hanna

The most original aspect is its fairy-tale subtext, but that’s laboriously spelt out, with Blanchett as both Wicked Witch and Big Bad Wolf, and Ronan as a fairytale princess with an onerous genetic inheritance.

The would-be comic relief — only it’s not funny enough — is supplied by a politically-correct English family on holiday in a camper van, with whom Ronan becomes embroiled.

This lets her bond with the daughter — Jessica Barden, who stole her scenes in Tamara Drewe but struggles here with lines too obviously written by adults.

Tom Hollander is creepy as a perverted assassin, but he seems neither athletic nor big enough to pose much of a threat to the physically impressive Bana. Their final struggle is unintentionally funny, like a dachshund trying to maul a doberman.

Hanna is mainly an exercise in escapism, but well acted and stylistically often stunning. It shows one of our most talented young directors, Joe Wright, learning to orchestrate action.

He may have started out on costume dramas such as Pride And Prejudice, but some of the action here is terrific.

And the Chemical Brothers’ unconventional score is one of the most exciting of the year.