Joe Wright, USA, 2011, 111 min.

Hanna is a film that is good for very specific reasons: the craftsmanship, the execution, and the music. What keeps it from being a great film is the script, which inexplicably was listed on 2009’s Black List (the list of the best un-produced screenplays.)

The story is simplistic. A young girl (Saoirse Ronan in a solid performance), raised off the grid by her father, is trained to be the perfect killer. When she is old enough, she is set loose to get revenge on the organization, and specifically the agent (Cate Blanchett), who did her and her father harm many years ago.

It’s unsurprising, and the plot moves from A to B to C in a very straightforward manner. There aren’t any turns or questions and not much can be said about the story when all is said and done. But as I wrote in the opening to this review, the story is not the draw of the film. Joe Wright is a wonderful director. A real craftsman. And when he gets a hold of scene it’s wonderful to watch.

There a few in this film. Set-pieces that, when combined with the Chemical Brothers’ cool and unique soundtrack, elevate the film to something more than the sum of its parts. The scene in the underground bunker. The chase in the shipping yard. Eric Bana’s one-take fight scene. Watching the way Joe Wright constructs those scenes is a joy.

And that’s what makes this film unique. It’s almost like I can ignore what is going on in the film and just watch a master technician pull off his craft. It’s great to see. But the story and the characters failed to engage me in any other way.

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