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TV Review: Hanna

TV Review, Mirielle Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Adventure, thriller, Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Jason Flemyng, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Seth Lochhead, David Farr, Joe Penhall, Joe Wright, Joe Wright, Hanna, 2011

SYNOPSIS: Raised by her father in the Finnish wilderness, teenage Hanna has trained all her life to be the perfect assassin. Her father sends her on a mission, and she stealthily makes her way across Europe while evading agents sent after her by a ruthless operative named Marissa, who once worked with Hanna’s father. As she draws closer to her target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and begins to question her humanity.

TV Review, Mirielle Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Adventure, thriller, Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Jason Flemyng, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Seth Lochhead, David Farr, Joe Penhall, Joe Wright, Joe Wright, Hanna, 2011

In a surprise move, Amazon is launching the first episode of their new espionage series Hanna right after the Super Bowl. This was a marketing ploy that worked for Netflix with the release of THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX last year but comes with the caveat that the episode will only be online for 24 hours. After that, viewers will have to wait until the series properly debuts in March. For a series adapted from a cult feature film starring Saorsie Ronan, Eric Bana, and Cate Blanchett, this is a ballsy move by Amazon to try and build some buzz for the series adaptation that no one really needed. The end result after watching this first episode is that we didn't really need this version either. 

Spreading Joe Wright's already cumbersome feature film over a full season of eight episodes led me to assume that we would get a deeper understanding of just how Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles taking Ronan's role) and her adoptive father Erik (Joel Kinnaman taking over for Bana) escape from CIA handler Marissa (Mireille Enos taking Blanchett's role). Instead, scribe David Farr (writer of the film version) expands the story by slowing things way down. And by "way down", I mean that the entire first episode of Hanna is essentially the same thing as the first twenty minutes of the feature film. In padding the time, there is very little that changes our understanding of the events that put Hanna and Erik into their survivalist environment and instead doesn't provide answers to questions the characters already asked before the film began.

TV Review, Mirielle Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Adventure, thriller, Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Jason Flemyng, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Seth Lochhead, David Farr, Joe Penhall, Joe Wright, Joe Wright, Hanna, 2011

This version of the story also does away with any of the fantasy-like elements of the original movie. Joe Wright's direction gave HANNA a surrealistic tone that put it way over the top and almost bordered on the lunacy of a Luc Besson film. Cate Blanchett chewed the scenery while Saorsie Ronan played the title role like a demented super soldier. In the series, everyone plays against those conventions as the show now is grounded and grittily realistic. Where Wright's film felt like a piece of escapism, director Sarah Adina Smith (BUSTER'S MAL HEART) gives us nothing distinct or unique to make this Hanna feel like something that even needs to exist. Gone is Wright's vision and gone is the brilliant score by The Chemical Brothers, replaced by a good (but nowhere near as good) score by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury (ANNIHILATION, EX MACHINA).

The film version of HANNA introduced a mysterious and unique mythology that could have catapulted the story into a Bourne-esque franchise of films that explored the story more deeply. But what that film accomplished in less than two hours is barely scratched in the first episode of the series. As much as I enjoy seeing Joel Kinnaman and Marielle Enos reunited for a new series, neither is up to the task of what Eric Bana or Cate Blanchett brought to the film. The energy level in this first episode is so low that I cannot imagine most audiences staying awake after spending four hours of the Super Bowl. It is a risky move to launch this in the post-big game slot and Amazon is clearly trying to build some momentum for this series. Unfortunately, this first hour just doesn't have the strength to build return viewers for the next chapter.

TV Review, Mirielle Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Adventure, thriller, Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Jason Flemyng, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Seth Lochhead, David Farr, Joe Penhall, Joe Wright, Joe Wright, Hanna, 2011

Taking out a cast and crew with countless awards under their belts and replacing them with virtual unknowns was a risk but that is the only risk Amazon took with this series. Everything feels so safe and generic, I was left wondering if I had seen this before. And I don't meant that I had already seen the feature film. Instead, there are elements that almost feel lifted from so many other movies and television series that it borders on plaigarism. There is also the fact that in the sequences that are copied directly from the movie version, they come off almost as reenactments with no real change to choreography or framing.

At no point does Hanna ever feel like it has a reason to exist. If you have seen the feature film, you will be bored out of your mind. If you have never seen HANNA and were intriguied by the trailer, you will feel like the first episode fails to deliver on any of the promise that the commercial laid out. Yes, there are two satisfactory action sequences in this episode, but this feels like a series that was designed to be binged. Still, eight hours to tell a story you can watch in less than two feels like a stretch for anyone aside from the most dedicated binge viewer.  Having seen just the first episode, I cannot justify watching any more, but I am curious to see just what the hell was added to quadruple the run time needed to tell this story.

The first episode of Amazon Studios' Hanna is now streaming for Prime subscribers, but only for 24 hours. The season will premiere March 2019.

Source: JoBlo.com

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