One part fairy tale and two parts action-thriller, Hanna aims to deliver a simplistic plot Kill Bill style. It asks the question of who’s the big bad wolf, who’s the prey and is grandma even important to this tale? No, this film is not a simple retelling of Red Riding Hood. It certainly has a quality that borrows from folklore. But there’s also a mythical allegory that connects this young girl to the Goddess Freya of Scandinavian lore. Actress Saoirse Ronan who plays the lead role certainly has the look down for it.
But this time, the person she represents is not of a fertility goddess. She is more of a warrior, a Valkyrie—trained by the best warriors that Odin’s legions has to offer. Erik (Eric Banna) is a former Black Ops soldier living in seclusion and he has trained her, since birth, for some faraway mission. No one knows what it exactly entails and the plot is not as clear as one would like to get all the answers.
Instead, what audiences are treated to is a top-notch job at film editing. With a gritty, pounding, musical landscape from the Chemical Brothers, these two elements work very well together to keep audiences glued to the action. They do an excellent job in giving the film an operatic quality. Not to be outdone, Edvard Greig’s In the Hall of the Mountain King subtly plays out in the background. Director Joe Wright may very well be borrowing from Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt, which in itself is loosely inspired by a Norwegian fairy tale about a hunter in a quest for love, but he has to travel far and wide before he can even come close to it.
In the framework of a chase film, what Hanna is after is a coming of age tale—of separation and growth—in what she has become. The winter landscape represents the death of her innocence and the city life shows her growth and integration to a harsh realm of the mortals. Life is not easy in Midgard (Earth).
And not everyone is pleased. Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) will stop at nothing to get Hanna, even at the cost of her own job in the CIA. If there’s a sequel, maybe both Hanna and the audience will find the additional answers they’re looking for.