Review: Hanna

Esme Creed-Miles in Hanna

Hanna, the 8 episode series on Amazon, was based on the 2011 thriller also named Hanna. It isn’t a remake, but an addition and extension. It’s very good. There are some spoilers ahead.

The 2011 film featured an extraordinary performance from Saoirse Ronan. Another unknown, Esme Creed-Miles, takes over the role of Hanna in the new series and she’s equally outstanding. This concept and character is a star-maker.

Joel Kinnaman in Hanna
I’ll keep you safe

Joel Kinnaman plays Erik Heller. He takes Hanna as an infant. He and Hanna’s mother run from the facility full of babies where Hanna was meant to be an experiment. The mother is killed, but Erik and Hanna hide deep in the forest.

Esme Creed-Miles and Joel Kinnaman in Hanna
Don’t stop. Don’t give up.

They live there, with Erik training Hanna relentlessly in both mental and physical powers, until she is 16.

They are discovered. They run. They separate, but have an agreed upon meeting place.

Hanna is physically powerful but emotionally naive. She’s thrust into the new world of people, cities, traffic, technology, movement, noise. Her survival skills mark her as different in this world.

It’s a coming-of-age story mixed with a dangerous pursuit. Hanna wants to find out who she is. Many deadly government officials who were part of the secret experiments on babies from Hanna’s origin chase her and Erik.

Mireille Enos in Hanna
Marissa has conflicting feelings about the experiments she was a part of.

Chief among those in pursuit is Marissa (Mireille Enos), a CIA agent based in Paris. She was formerly in charge of the baby experiment program and worked with Erik there before he defected and took a baby. She sets out to kill both Erik and Hanna, but is taken off the hunt by the new man in charge, Sawyer (Khalid Abdalla). Marissa continues the pursuit on her own, off book.

Hanna discovers some of her truth. She finds a document describing her DNA as ‘abnormal.’ She finds another document with the name of her mother and learns that Erik isn’t actually her father.

As the story progresses, Hanna sees how other 16 year old kids live and act. She realizes the lies that Erik has told her and demands the truth from him. She demands to know where she came from, who she is.

A strength of this series is the mix of personal growth from Hanna and the thriller aspects of the chase. The two blend seamlessly into an interesting and exciting story.

Esme Creed-Miles in Hanna
Hanna at home in a cave in the forest

Esme Creed-Miles has an open, uncomplicated face. She can look wily and naive simultaneously. She did a terrific job with the physical role – running, fighting, reacting with violence to any threat. She was wonderful at the coming-of-age story as she interacted with other kids and adults. She needed human contact, touch, affection, acceptance, laughter. She found it, but she was dangerous to be around.

By the end of season 1, Hanna and Erik, with Marissa and others in armed pursuit, have circled back to where it all began. They go to the secret facility in the forest where other teens (all girls) like Hanna were raised and trained. There they meet Trainee 249 (Yasmin Monet Prince). If there is another season, Trainee 249 may be a key figure.

The way the last episode ended was a perfect setup for a new season that Hanna could lead an eager audience into. I am ready for more of this series! She knows her truth now, and is ready to set a course into her adulthood.

Two women, Amy Neil and Sarah Adina Smith, directed half of the season’s 8 episodes. The series was created by David Farr. Farr was also a writer on the earlier film Hanna. Other key characters were played by Rhianne Barreto, Félicien Juttner, Gamba Cole, and Joanna Kulig.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Hanna”

  1. Pingback: Review: Hanna, season 2 - Old Ain't Dead

  2. Remakes have their own challenges, and this TV version is no exception. The basic problem is that the pursuit-of-damsel storyline has been handled and mishandled many times before. There’s just so much you can do. Esme Creed-Miles and Joel Kinnaman in Season 1 turn in credible performances against the usual stable of evildoers, but Mireille Enos, quite capable elsewhere, seems to adopt the Dorothy Parker line: Runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.

    Stealing every scene she’s in is Rhianna Barreto as the prototype spoiled teenage friend, who constantly turns bitchery and compassion around on a dime.

    Warning: If you watch it, make sure your viewing area is dark, ’cause a whole bunch of scenes are.

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