Joe Wright's Hanna is a tech-savvy fairy tale, replete with a wicked witch, uncertain parentage, and chop-socky mixed martial arts. Yet despite its 21st-century trappings and proto- feminist protagonist, Hanna strangely reverts to reactionary politics as usual. When we first meet 16-year-old Hanna (Saoirse Ronan), she's a fierce huntress, disemboweling woodland beasts between staged fisticuffs with her bearded, befurred father, Erik (Eric Bana). Stuck in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, she knows nothing of the larger world except for whatever paranoid Papa has taught her. Since even home-schooled ninjas have to grow up, Erik concedes to unearthing a long-hidden device that alerts civilization—including avenging CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett)—of their whereabouts. After a dead-of-night abduction, Hanna mercilessly escapes from captivity, snapping necks and bludgeoning faces on her grim journey of self-discovery and self-preserving homicide. Best known for well-behaved dramas, Wright (Atonement) emerges as a surprisingly nimble action director who refreshingly favors spatial continuity and a crisp, Kubrickian frame. But there's a dubious conservatism undergirding his tale. Though Blanchett is a riot as a Nordstrom-attired, Southern-drawled Brünnhilde, what ultimately makes her so deviant—and so worthy of punishment—is her childlessness. Hanna has more going for it than most Hollywood genre films, but its aesthetic achievements amount to only superficial pleasures.
Ronan as intrepid avenger.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., April 8. Rated PG-13. 111 minutes.