Movie Review: Hanna (2011), directed by Joe Wright


Be forewarned: There are spoilers in this movie review.

The movie Hanna, directed by Joe Wright, pits young
and culturally naive Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) against an
evil CIA agent (Marissa Weigler, played by Cate Blanchett),
who is attempting to eradicate all traces of Hanna’s existence.
Hanna is the last surviving “evidence” of a morally
questionable DNA experiment conducted by the government.
The experiment was designed with the intention of creating
an army of super soldiers—humans better equipped than their
non-meddled-with counterparts to decimate and destroy. As an
infant, Hanna is rescued by a rogue CIA agent. He raises her
in the wilds of Finland, teaching her not only how to survive
in the harsh conditions, but also how to fight and defend herself.
Most importantly, he instills in her the drive to destroy
agent Weigler before Weigler destroys her.

Although enjoyable, from a feminist perspective, the film has
some flaws.  For example, I found it interesting that Hanna’s
great adversary is a woman. I suppose the writers thought it
would be too problematic to pit Hanna against a man. It might
alienate the audience to have this young beauty destroy a
full-grown man, or alternately, it might not be perceived as
a fair fight.  Instead, Hanna must assassinate agent Weigler,
a CHILDLESS yet sexualized female, who, because of her
childless status, is portrayed as monstrous. Scary, yes, but
not in the way the writer intended.  In this case, the childless
woman completely lacks the maternal instinct that would make her
sympathetic to Hanna’s plight. Childlessness is thus equated
with monstrosity—Agent Weigler is an aberration, a freak of
nature, somehow less than woman.  This depiction is reinforced
with her cold, ruthless demeanor. Even in private she is deranged
enough to make her gums bleed intentionally when she cleans her
teeth. I can almost guarantee that childless men are never
depicted as monsters.

The ending of the film is also problematic. Whereas the film
could have ended with Hanna showing Agent Weigler mercy and
letting her live, instead, Hanna predictably kills Weigler
without mercy. Thus, the moral of this story is that free will
is nonexistent. Hanna has learned nothing during her foray into
civilization. She is the product of her genetic makeup and nothing
else. She is, in fact, the killing machine that the CIA feared.
Moreover, nothing can be chalked up to her personal strength as
a woman—she has been engineered and trained by men and has
done exactly as they asked.

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