Hanna is the most distinct and refreshing film to hit the multiplexes this year. Known for his period dramas like Atonement, director Joe Wright has created something very ambitious; a breathtaking art-house action film with enough Bourne, Bond and Nikita to please the masses.

Hanna, an average looking young adolescent, played by a mesmerising Saoirse Ronan has been secluded from the world her entire life. Her father Erik (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA operative, has kept her in isolation, training her as a cold killer in preparation for the real world. A world where her father knows Hanna will be hunted and imprisoned as an asset by the CIA and specifically one callous agent Marissa Weigler (Cate Blanchett). Not only is it clear that Marissa has a special interest in Hanna but it is also apparent that Hanna is not your average young girl nor Hanna your average action movie.

Set across breathtaking white snowy Finnish landscapes, Hannastarts with an innocent yet ominous tone not unlike the titular character herself. Ronan, with her white complexion and hair to match, disappears into the scenery in these early scenes but always commands the audience’s attention. Ronan captures the vulnerability and menace of Hanna perfectly. We are never sure what to expect or when to put our guard down. Hanna is a great character, a highly trained killer but still a curious young girl torn between her heart and her instinct. She is unsure of the world outside the facts and figures taught to her by her father and more importantly for Hanna she is unsure of who she is and how she fits. Her father may have prepared her to snap a man’s neck but not for interacting with the world let alone children her own age.

When the chase begins Hanna becomes an unrelenting and exhilarating ride set to a thumping and very fitting Chemical Brothers soundtrack. On the run from Marissa and her goons, one of which is an especially memorable Tom Hollander, Hanna is able to utilise all the skills and knowledge that has been taught to her in order to survive and act out her father’s mission. Similarly Wright is able to use all his skills to masterfully keep the audience glued to their seats. Wright, not known for his high adrenaline scenes approaches the chase with great style and originality. Memorable scenes are filled with great rhythmic editing and stylised shots that compliment the soundtrack wonderfully. While on the flip side Wright also knows when to prolong a scene with no editing building great tension, suspense and realism.

Although overshadowed by Ronan, Bana and Blanchett both give excellent performances as Hanna’s protector and pursuer, albeit very different ones. Bana’s Erik is very reserved but calculated, he is endearing as Hanna’s father and defender even when he probably shouldn’t be, a credit to Bana. While Bana’s performance is noticeably subtle Blanchett’s is not as Marissa the cold hearted ‘wicked witch’ as Hanna describes her. Blanchett’s over the top (with southern accent to match) villain is a perfect mix of obsessive-compulsive, wickedness and a little bit of vulnerability. So good is Blanchett that at times the audience will wonder who is chasing whom, but not for long as Marissa’s ruthlessness is never in doubt.

Once the chase and all its great characters converge in Berlin for the final showdown all the elements that have made Hanna great up to this point come together to produce a heart stopping climax. Wrights amazing imagery, The Chemical Brothers awesome soundtrack and Ronan’s incredible performance all come together to make what is a relatively weak script into a must see film of 2011 for film buffs and action junkies a like.

Verdict: See this.

Joe Wright emerges from the conservative Pride and Prejudice and Atonement and brings the multiplex audience an original stylised action feast that along with a Chemical Brothers soundtrack and an amazing performance by Saoirse Ronan they will not soon forget.

Directed by: Joe Wright
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander
Run Time: 111 minutes