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Hanna Series Premiere Review: Hanna Levels Up, Yet To Go For The Jugular

By: Simson Garcia

The story of Hanna hit theaters in 2011 and has been readapted for Amazon Prime streaming. The film that arguably launched lead actress Saoirse Ronan into stardom and co-starred Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett took on Luc Besson's Nikita stylized revenge theme (Kill Bill and Salt are others). That theme being a strong female lead protagonist who's vengeful, and some have succeeded here but like any genre, a narrative crafted as well as Nikita or Hanna are few and far between. Case in point: after watching Nikita on Netflix, its algorithm restructured my recommended list to a never ending scroll of "movies with a strong female character lead." Hanna was one that held up and was one of my wisest choices whenever I ventured into "Nikita" territory. The new exclusive spot for Hanna aired during the super bowl halftime show and its pilot episode, "Forest," was up for only 24 hours. The first season will be available in full in March.

The opening scene of "Forest" re-introduces ex-CIA agent Erik Heller (Joel Kinnaman) who rescues his infant daughter Hanna from a covert Romanian facility. This is a different take on the 2011 film as we're delivered Hanna in an ICU in this series while the movie begins with Hanna as a teenager. Erik takes her to her mom and all escape. They're eventually tracked down by the CIA, the mother is killed after their car crashes and burns into a tree, and Erik and Hanna flee into exile. Contrarily, in the film Hanna is news, rather, once CIA-op Marissa (Mireille Enos) finds out. Here in the show, the CIA is well aware of Hanna during her infancy. 15 years later, Erik's trained Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles) into a cold-blooded assassin. They're held up in the arctic wild where they practice combat together. The movie started this way and I love that they kept it here. I also like that they provided a bit more detail to their relationship. For instance, Erik teaches her pop culture (Jaws and The Beatles) as well as helping her learn German and French, just subtle things the movie didn't fully cover. 

The sole purpose for Erik is to protect Hanna from the relentless pursuit of Marissa. Erik thus tried to keep her confined by creating a perimeter that Hanna's prohibited from extending beyond. That's compromised, however, once Hanna leaves it to meet Arvo--a teenage boy. After the two had been caught by security--Arvo being arrested, Hanna escaping--while star gazing atop a satellite, the CIA discovers their location and attempts to extract them. Hanna's captured but not before Erik, who escapes, reminds her of her training and what to expect once she enters society. This too is different from the movie as it's Hanna who signals a beacon of their own whereabouts. 

Hanna turns a different direction than the typical revenge flick formula. Hanna's rather a ruthless killer of adolescent age and that's what sets it apart from the aforementioned films. There's still loss (mother's death) and redemption (revenge on Marissa) that's embedded within the protagonist, however, we get to see Hanna's growth and that's the unique perspective Hanna takes on. Also, this is a lengthened version so we'll have plenty of room for fight sequences and a lot of things that couldn't get covered in two hours. If there's anything the film and this pilot missed, it's that it didn't have enough fighting. I love revenge flicks, especially ones that "pull no punches" and especially with a ruthless teen to rule them all (i.e. Logan) which the film did masterfully. Let's see if this show can do the same. So far, here's my grade.

Grade: B

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