The once-upon-a-time Grimm — and grim — fairy-tale qualities of the arty Anglo-Euro fantasy thriller Hanna announce themselves at the beginning: We first see the agile heroine Hanna (Saoirse Ronan, a riveting presence with straw-pale hair) bow-hunting in a forest of Finnish snow not far from where she and her widowed father (Eric Bana) live in covert exile. Her arrow finds its mark, a reindeer whose meat will provide food. But the job is incomplete. ”I just missed your heart,” she whispers in a delicate German accent to the dying animal as the camera alternates between a close-up of the girl’s ice-blue eyes and those of her quarry. Then Hanna pulls out a pistol and finishes the job with an assassin’s precision. Clearly, this is no ordinary princess-in-training: Hanna will soon leave her father for gray Berlin and embark on a hero’s quest/showdown against an elegant, ruthless, big bad she-wolf of a CIA agent (Cate Blanchett, rocking her lipstick) who knows all too well the secret of why this girl is so strong and so dangerous. There will be some great chases, accompanied by cool music from the Chemical Brothers.
Hanna‘s intriguing, disorienting pleasures — the movie is part poetic dreamscape, part sinister spy saga — lie more in the filmmaking flourishes than in the narrative, with its indulgent British-caravan detours that explore Colorful Morocco, Underbelly Germany, and the Fascinating Locals therein. Taking notes from the work of hip visual stylists, including Michel Gondry and Run Lola Run‘s Tom Tykwer, director Joe Wright (who first focused on Ronan’s hypnotizing eyes in Atonement) presents Hanna as a ? picture-book story about complicated daddies, wicked stepmothers, and daughters who learn to be brave in the dark woods. B+