NYCC: Hanna Is An Assassin Fairy Tale, With Meticulous Direction
There was a weird imbalance at first at the New York Comic Con panel for Hanna, the assassin drama that reunites director Joe Wright with his Atonement star Saoirse Ronan. While Wright, Ronan and co-star Eric Bana were all on hand for the panel, the first clip they presented focused entirely on Cate Blanchett, who plays an American CIA agent apparently trying to track down Ronan's titular assassin character. The scene was filmed well, with excellent building tension and staging within the hotel room, but it was a little weird to get amped to the teenage girl assassin movie and see Cate Blanchett dodging bullets instead.
Luckily the second clip brought the goods the audience was actually looking for. Hanna has been captured in some kind of concrete cell by Blanchett and her cohorts, and a patronizing doctors starts off asking her questions, while Ronan's Hanna sits there with wild, tangled, Carrie-esque hair and a blank stare. When she asks to see Blanchett's character Marissa Wiegler, both we and Blanchett knows she's up to something, so they send in a decoy instead. It looks like Hanna is just some traumatized girl looking for comfort, but when she wraps her arms around fake-Marissa's neck you'd better believe there's a neck-snapping on the way. Oh, and then she gets her hands on a gun, and you don't get raised in the woods as an assassin without knowing how to handle a gun in a time of crisis.
Bana didn't get a lot of play in either of the clips, but the panel made it clear that his role raising Hanna is important in the film; it's just been the two of them for her entire life, so that her only concept of the outside world comes from books and fairy tale stories. As Wright put it, when it comes time for her to leave home, "she thinks the world she's going to is going to be a beautiful fairy tale, with princes and princesses," while Ronan put it more simply: "She's a bit of a freak. But I like freaks." You really only need one look at her in the orange jumpsuit in the prison scene to know exactly what that means.
The gunplay and general assassin stuff is clearly what everyone in the Comic Con crowd showed up to see, but I'm more interested in what we saw of Wright bringing his lush, meticulous filmmaking style to a grittier and more violent story. I'm imagining something like that famous war tracking shot in Atonement, but with kick-ass Saoirse Ronan running around instead of battered World War II soldiers. Oh, and with music from the Chemical Brothers-- there was no score in place for anything that we saw, but Wright confirmed they'll be doing the score for the entire film, and based on what we saw it will complement the film perfectly. No, not exactly what you were expecting from the director of Pride and Prejudice, but that's the fun of it.
Hanna hits theaters on April 8 next year, and though there's no specific plan for a trailer release, head of Focus Features James Schamus shouted up form the audience during the panel that it was coming "soon." Keep an eye out and brace yourself for well-directed teen assassin madness next year.
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