The idea of sitting in a darkened room for two hours watching Keira Knightley try to act has never appealed to me, so consequently I’ve never seen a Joe Wright film. But I thought I’d give his new one ‘Hanna’ a try as it sounded like quite a departure from his previous costume-drama offerings and starred the sensational young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. Saoirse will be familiar to anyone who’s seen Peter Jackson’s critically mauled ‘The Lovely Bones’ in which her subtle lead performance was by far the best element. The supporting cast is magnificent too, with Cate Blanchett revelling in her wicked-witch CIA role, Tom Hollander as a deliciously creepy shellsuit wearing hitman and relative newcomer Jessica Barden is hilarious as a precocious teen. The Chemical Brothers provide a pumping Dance soundtrtack.
Without giving too much away about the plot, Hanna is a young girl who has spent her whole life living in a secluded wood-cabin with her mysterious father. He has taught Hanna to be the ultimate assassin and only when she is ready will her mission start. Her father has a few books including ‘Grimm’s Fairytales’ and encyclopedias with which he has educated her. Of course when she ultimately encounters the outside world she finds the books have prepared her little for the buzzing of electricity, the beating of drums and the forging of friendships.
It is this dizzying baptism into real life that informs Wrights film. One moment it’s a pulsating action flick then a road-movie, a coming-of-age drama, a trippy fairytale, a social study and a wickedly funny sitcom. The audience I saw it with loved it, all laughing at different moments and gasping at the violence in others. I left feeling that I’d just watched 4 or five films together and all of them brilliant.