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Deadly innocence (film only)
Member Name: calypte
Advantages: actually a fair bit of fun
Disadvantages: bit of a hodge-podge of genres and moods
Deep in the snowy wastes of Norway, a renegade spy raises his daughter to be a lean, mean killing machine. Trained practically from birth to be fit, strong and ruthless, it's perhaps not surprising that teenage Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is out hunting her own dinner, or very nearly able to beat up a man more than twice her size. Is it? And then - like any parental relationship - there's the growing tension of Hanna feeling it's time to not only to fly the nest, but to see the world she's so far only experienced through books, so total has been her isolation. Somehow, I'm getting the feeling that Erik (Eric Bana) has been protecting his daughter from more than just teenage boys...
On paper, trying to talk about Hanna makes it sound like a bit of a mess. It's a thriller, an action adventure, a bit of a coming of age thing, with a hefty family drama element. Occasionally there are moments that made me laugh out loud, and not in an inadvertent kind of a way. It's hard to write why it was worth watching, and yet something in that mess pulled together and it actually was.
Back to the start, and we're going to chuck in another theme/genre, and in my opinion the least successful one: let's go a bit arthouse. Cold, bleak surroundings; teenage girl hunting deer; a father training his child in the most isolated of conditions. 'Scuse me while I stifle a small yawn. There is a lot to appreciate with the set up, but it did have me wondering what kind of dull experience I'd let myself in for - and largely fearing for just way too much teenage angst set against some lovely if desolate scenery. But, ah, don't worry: here comes the action!
Usually when a movie makes a big shift in tone it's hugely jarring for the viewer. I'd suggest that the main reason Hanna gets away with it is that each change in mood comes with a fresh environment and a new part of the story. I didn't really get the impression that it was a conscious move to keep the viewer off kilter, but it does work like that. And given that we're following a young character quite probably meeting people other than her father for the first time, and definitely her initial views of the big bad world, that's not actually a bad thing. And of course, when I say big bad world I do mean one where the CIA is hot on your tail and more than a few people are willing to shoot at you...!
Into the middle of all this comes a huge dollop of what I can only describe as comic relief - not that it's overtly so, but the English hippy family led by Jason Flemyng and Olivia Williams bring a lot of light relief. They do stray ever so slightly into stereotype eventually, but in many ways are the most 'real' - and definitely most human - of the characters here. The juxtaposition of the very extraordinary life of teen Hanna with a very normal slice of English family life is utterly out of place with the rest of the film, and yet absolutely a solid core that stops the whole thing being Teen Bourne.
Either side of that diversion, we have the ever-adaptable Cate Blanchett as a high-level CIA operative with links to Erik's past: she is the driving force behind the chase to hunt down both father and daughter. In hindsight it is perhaps a little disappointing to have a female baddy show more weakness than your average spy movie villain, but still refreshing to have a depth to the character. The alternative is provided with a fabulous performance from Tom Hollander in a rather one-dimensional role as a camp German hitman, hot on the heels of our young heroine - absolutely menace personified, and wrapped in a natty shell suit. Priceless!
Throughout all this rather madcap escape is a growing sense of mystery and unease: just what exactly is going on with Hanna? What happened in the past that left Erik a lone parent so desperate to hide her away in the middle of nowhere? The more we learn, the more there seems to be to this story. Innocence is apparently more than a little deadly.
One final comment: without spoiling anything, please don't make the mistake I did and assume American-staffed CIA bases are going to be in the US deserts. It did leave me momentarily a little confused as to how a character could leave on foot and suddenly end up in what looked like Morocco!
Back to where I started, then, and there is just so much with Hanna that really shouldn't work: it's a mess of different ingredients chucked together and yet somehow it ended up being a whole lot of fun. It would be very easy to pick holes in it, but rather I found the contrast between the different acts of the story helped it avoid the pitfalls of any one element. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but with everything that's going on there's surely *something* for everyone in there!
*Running time: 111 minutes
*Theatrical release: 6th May 2011
*DVD release: tbc
Summary: Teenage terror takes a telling trip!