A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this action thriller is surprisingly bloody and violent, pushing the limits of the PG-13 rating. There's a startling amount of very realistic violence, even though many of the action sequences are shot in a stylized, rapidly edited manner. Characters are killed in all manner of ways -- with arrows, knives, guns, fists, and everyday objects turned into weapons. With such a high body count and so many bloody deaths (including the torture and implied deaths of innocent bystanders), the movie is pretty iffy for younger teens. In addition to the violence, there's some sexuality (a married couple is overheard making love, and teenagers briefly kiss or try to kiss) and language, including one memorable "f--k." And, ultimately, the movie's messages are fairly negative, suggesting that if you have killer instincts, it's your destiny to give in to them.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) isn't your typical 15-year-old girl. She's been raised in the remote snowcapped forests of Finland by her protective father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana), who has homeschooled her in world literature, linguistics, and how to kill in every conceivable way. One day, he digs out a mysterious-looking device and tells Hanna that if she's "ready," she can flick the switch that makes her presence known to Marissa Viegler (Cate Blanchett), an ambitious CIA agent whom Hanna has been instructed to kill at all costs if she's ever to be reunited with her father. She turns the switch on, and thus begins a worldwide cat-and-mouse game between the young assassin and her antagonist. Along the way, Hanna discovers that she, her father, and Marissa are connected in a way she never imagined and that she's genetically "abnormal." If Hanna succeeds, she'll murder Marissa, but Agent Viegler has enlisted the help of a seedy mercenary (Tom Hollander) to capture Hanna first.
Is it any good?
Looking at his previous films -- including Pride & Prejudice and Atonement -- it's hard to believe that director Joe Wright helmed the frenetic revenge film that is HANNA. But as the movie progresses, you find his signature touches -- most notably the fact that he trusts Ronan, who received an Oscar nomination for her scene-stealing performance in Atonement, to believably turn into the perfect assassin. But unlike 2010's infamously potty-mouthed killer Hit Girl in Kick-Ass, Hanna isn't coy and school-girlish about her precisely honed skills. She's taken her father's motto -- "adapt or die" -- to heart, but she's not overly manipulative. When she weeps while holding the woman she thinks is Marissa, it's out of genuine relief that she can vanquish the woman she's been trained to murder. Ronan is truly one of the most gifted young actresses working in films. Seeing her on screen with Blanchett is a thrill, because you just know that one day the teen thespian will be as divine an actress as her elder.
Wright's love of a powerful soundtrack is also evident. He memorably used Debussy's Clair de lune in Atonement, and for the rapid-fire action sequences in Hanna, he enlists the help of electronica virtuosos The Chemical Brothers, whose relentless (and occasionally headache-inducing) beats perfectly accompany the unceasing violence and confusion that Hanna's life devolves into for most of the movie. Blanchett and Bana continue to prove that they can immerse themselves in any character, and it's a shame they don't share screen for more than a few minutes. Wright has also highlighted yet another talented young actress, Jessica Barden, who plays Sophie, a quick-witted and hilariously acid-tongued English teen who befriends the eccentric Hanna while on a family road-trip through Morocco and Spain. Barden's scenes with Ronan provide much-needed levity in an otherwise intense adventure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the amount of violence in the movie. Is it always necessary to show how Hanna kills? Would the movie have been better or worse with less graphic violence?
Marissa says that children can be bad people, too. What do you think about the popularity of young "assassins" like Hanna and Hit Girl, or even Katniss in the Hunger Games books? Why is there so much appeal in female warriors?
- In theaters: April 8, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: September 6, 2011
- Cast: Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Saoirse Ronan
- Director: Joe Wright
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual material and violence