I just came from seeing Hanna, the current better alternative to Captain America - although it came out a couple months ago in USA, when it was a better alternative to Thor - but that's all I can really say about it. The best it can achieve right now is that it's the most "underrated" movie this time of year, among a list of forgettable and mind-numbing comic book flicks.
My short definition of Hanna would be "revisionist popcorn action-thriller". I concede it was well made, at times awe-struck by its masterful technical precision. I loved its look, the gritty reality of the photography, and impressed by the lack of noticeable CGI (for I picked a couple objects with indifferent lighting, but I won't spoil the reader with untrained eyes for such things). And I can not complain for a lack of plot, which moved briskly yet casually, just the way I like it.
To summarise, this is a story about a girl raised in the snowy forests of somewhere in Europe by her father, trained to be a perfect killer and soldier. When she is ready, she flips a switch to set off a beacon for some CIA (or something) agent to find her and hunt her down. The movie kicks off from there and she travels around Europe on a great chase, discovering the truth about herself and the joys of finding independence and freedoms she was deprived of in her past.
My concern is that I did not gain anything out of it by the end, either intellectually or emotionally. Should it be a complement to say you can switch your brain off during this movie, but not required to go all the way off, but more like "standby" mode? Perhaps I have entered the dark side of film viewing, expecting a film to be about something, and if not, then be a riotous piece of camp. This was my same problem with watching The Dark Knight. Perhaps there is something if you look for it, but in my mind, I've had much more fulfilling experiences with other films. Great films.
It makes me think of another film from a while ago, Sucker Punch a Zack Snyder film. What both films have in common, besides sexy action-babe female protagonists, is the point of being cool for no sake other than being cool. The difference is that Sucker Punch fails, because it tries way too hard to impress with established "cool things", and Hanna succeeds, because Joe Wright seems to know what it means to be cool: to be oblivious of the fact that he is being cool. He has a cool story, cool characters, a cool soundtrack (by the Chemical Brothers), and instead of saying "OK let's make the coolest movie ever!" Joe Wright would settle on "whatever bro, yeah". The movie isn't about being cool, and that's what's cool about it.
But for me, cool is not enough. If it is for you, then knock yourself out, you'll love it.
Now I want to talk about style, something which stuck out for me in this movie. There are times when directors will decide to go in an unconventional direction. This is great when it serves the story, to surprise the audience, to move, to express. But then, as I noticed in Hanna, it seems to draw attention to itself. The first thing I noticed in the opening credits is when it felt the duty to mention this is "a Joe Wright film". This is a sign of a pretentious director, whether or not they are good, but it's not enough to simply give themselves directing credit. They have to establish this is their film, told in their voice, the auteur. When Hanna is running down a large tunnel, escaping from this strange facility, lost, all new to her experience, the camera spinning around and the editing cutting quickly up close and out wide, in time to the music, and spinning and spinning, seems to draw too much attention to itself, but pulls me out of the story. It does nothing to truly serve the story. Yes, she's confused, lost, panicking even, I can tell by Soairse Ronan's performance. Her performance is good enough, there is no need for the director to step in and make up for a short-coming that wasn't there. Unless there is really a point, such tomfoolery becomes superfluous.
Watch a film by Martin Scorcese, for instance, and you'll see what I mean. Scorcese makes many unconventional film-making choices, but they all serve a purpose to the story, or the point of. He really does make the best films.
So what did I really want out of Hanna? How could it have improved? I think in the end, all I really want to do is go watch a different movie, and let this one fall in the pile of obscurity where it belongs. It's an underrated, forgettable...thing. I don't think I'll be getting it on blu-ray, but I highly recommend the soundtrack, at least.