saoirse_ronan_for_hanna

Some people probably saw this coming when Joe Wright signed on to direct, but I have to admit that I didn’t. Atonement‘s Saoirse Ronan is now in negotiations to take the title role in Wright’s upcoming action-thriller Hanna. The film is a kind of Nikita-meets-Leon, Kick-Ass-meets-Bourne mash-up about a 14 year old girl who has finely honed killing skills. Calling her an assassin is slightly off the mark I think, but it does get something like the right idea across. Once upon a time, Danny Boyle was attached to direct.

Having read a draft of Seth Lochhead‘s screenplay I can see how brilliantly Ronan fits the role. The specific requirements aren’t too exacting – she’s just a year or two older than the character but looks young enough, and she has those big and innocent eyes that would play off against her violent acts in the way you’d expect. Had this movie been made back in the early 00′s, I’m sure Keira Knightley would have been chased down for the role.

According to The Hollywood Reporter‘s story on the casting, the script has also received some work from David Farr. That could be a good thing because the version I read was rather slight. Having said that, the plot description they use is bang on accurate to the story I know:

The story follows a 14-year-old Eastern European girl who has been raised by her father to be a cold-blooded killing machine. She connects with a French family, forms a friendship with their daughter and goes through the pangs of adolescence. When the girl is dragged back to her father’s world and discovers that she was bred as a killing machine in a CIA prison camp, she must fight her way to a free life.

None of that is really spoiler material, but there’s very little else to the film. It’s pared down, shall we say.

Now, if you think that the Pixar films are socially conservative, I can’t wait to see what you make of this one. The theme of ‘family’ is woven right throughout it in a very brightly coloured thread and it’s principal device seems to be to ‘explore’ your notions of what a child is and how a child should be raised, and ultimately lead you to some of the same ideals and notions that underwire Pixar’s nostalgiac narratives.

Of course, I don’t mean any of that as a criticism – I feel that a film can propose any ideology it sees fit, as long as it does so skillfully and with originality and integrity. My issues with Lochhead’s Hanna screenplay would be that it’s so thin, so familiar, and sometimes so simple. My hope now is that future drafts, the employment of Farr and appointment of director Joe Wright have all done something to beef things up a little.

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