Stepping out of your comfort zone can reap rewards if you handle the new material - Spielberg's Schindler's List, Fincher's The Social Network, Kershner's The Empire Strikes Back...
So now Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) tries his hand at thriller/action/spy/coming of age... and boy does he get it right! Even with all those genre's in one movie!
Throughout its running time, Hanna shows its dedication to every aspect up on the screen: from the pacing (constantly moving but not at a speed that loses or confuses the audience), its cinematography (the barren snow-covered vistas at the beginning, the over-crowded, bright sights and sounds of Morocco) through to its characterisation and the subsequent performances that shine from that. The show obviously goes to Ronan who amazingly conjours up a cross between Leon, his protege Mathilda, Kick Ass's Hit Girl and Jason Bourne - all in the small-framed 16 year old girl, who, living in a forest all her life, knows everything but has never experienced or felt anything.
Her journey into the world to trace and kill Blanchett's CIA baddie allows the coming-of-age arc to evolve as Ronan's Hanna experiences such things as music, friendship and, humorously, a boys (unwise) advances... Whether it be amazed at electricity or fighting for her life against neo-Nazi cronies, Ronan nails it everytime. Her adult counterparts are not allowed to leave it all up to her however: Blanchett's delightful Texan drawl is just plain evil whilst Bana's (admittedly under-used) strong, silent type father gets am arm rest-clutching fight sequence in a Berlin subway that is done all in one magnificent camera shot.
And that's where the surprises that catch you off guard come from. Wright brings glimpses of arthouse to action - the confrontation in the storage container facility is one of the most exciting set pieces since Damon's Bourne showed how to run and fight with a rooftop and a towel - and then he delivers a touching "under the blanket" conversation full of off-kilter, unframed close-up's of Hanna trying to understand and nearly mis-reading friendship with an opinionated English girl. And then his choice for music literally seals the deal! Like Daft Punk's score for Tron: Legacy heightened the viewing experience, here, The Chemical Brothers set your pulse racing alongside Hanna's during the set pieces.
An exhilarating delight for the eye and the mind, Wright has truly stepped out of his comfort zone and delivered one of the most smartest and engaging films in recent memory - from the relentless escape from the CIA facility to the abandoned theme park finale, Hanna is a must see.
UK release date: 06.05.11