Making the Grades
The silver screen gives birth to another natural born killer—a lithe teenager with wispy blonde hair who goes by the name of Hanna (Saoirse Ronan). Raised in the Finnish wilderness by her father Erik (Eric Bana), a former CIA man, Hanna faces survival training each day. Here she learns to take down a large animal with a makeshift bow and eviscerate it with her bare hands and a hunting knife (we see some of the details of the process). Then from behind comes a potential killer, her father, reminding her she must always be at the ready.
Finally the day arrives when the sixteen-year-old determines to put her extensive training into practice. Separating from her father, Hanna begins a mission that will wrap up some unfinished business involving her family, with the hope of reuniting with her Dad in Berlin. But American agents capture Hanna and she is detained in an underground facility in the Moroccan desert. A short bloodbath later, the adolescent makes her escape and begins a journey toward her eventual goal. However the US agents aren’t willing to say goodbye just yet, especially chief operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett). With the young killing machine being pursued by trained assassins at every move, Hanna (and those she comes in contact with) is in constant danger.
Produced with a definite European flavor, this action story doesn’t hold back on violence even with a teen protagonist pushing the plot. Guns, knives and hand-to-hand combat are unleashed in a variety of scenarios, with death and serious injury left in their path. These are accompanied by gory details. Even the typically benign action of using a toothbrush turns into a close-up of advanced gingivitis (bleeding gums). The excuses for blood effects are only interrupted by a few quieter moments in which Hanna makes friends with Sophie (Jessica Barden), a girl who is travelling with her family and offers to stowaway the solitary stranger. Although the bullets take a breather in these scenes, some sexuality is introduced. Sophie explains she is considering a lesbian lifestyle and her parents are later overheard having sex. At least profanities are infrequent, but there is still a single sexual expletive, a term of Christian deity and a string of scatological outbursts.
Unfortunately Hanna follows in the same plot ruts of many proceeding films. While it is true that the unassailable main character who leaves a wake of bodies in their path isn’t often a waiflike teen girl, and not all action flicks feature European scenery (a novelty for North American audiences), the gratuitous content is just like most other offerings in this genre. Consequently, any positive messages about survival or looking out for others are assassinated by the graphic violence, which will likely leave parents searching for other alternatives.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Hanna.
With the right training, how powerful could a person the size of Hanna become? Why might we enjoy watching someone like her defeat people who appear much stronger?