In 2011, the film Hanna, directed by Joe Wright and starring a teenage Saoirse Ronan, was released to rave reviews from critics and audiences. It was a different kind of action film with a teenage girl at the center doing the most of the fighting. Now Amazon has taken that film, fleshed out the story, and made a new streaming series, also titled Hanna. The first season is already available on Amazon Prime.
Created and written by David Farr, co-writer of the film, Hanna retains much of the frenetic energy of the film while providing space for character development and a true coming-of-age story for its titular heroine. Though the details are murky, Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles) is assumed to be a genetically modified human, born in a government facility and stolen from that facility by her father Eric (Joel Kinnaman) when she was still a baby. The two live together in the Polish forest, taking great care to interact with no humans or alert anyone to their presence. Eric is sure the government, particularly the shadowy CIA Agent, Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos), is still searching for them.
The first episode of the series was screened at WonderCon 2019 and was more than enough to get me to immediately watch episode 2. From the start, the series pulls no punches. While Eric may have rescued his daughter, he doesn't fill her upbringing with warm hugs and happiness. It is all about safety, survival, and training. Hanna hunts alone, spars with her father at a moment's notice, conditions her body and mind endlessly, and swallows the hurricane of questions swirling inside her. In silent moments atop a cliff or in the forest, you can feel her longing for a life beyond the trees and for answers to the circumstances of her birth and why they must remain hidden.
Creed-Miles is fantastic as Hanna. It's not an easy role, after all. Hanna is sharp and deadly, cleverer than almost anyone else, fluent in several languages, and, through it all, slightly lost. Creed-Miles rises to each of these challenges and adds humanity to the character where it would be easy to let her be colder, more unreachable.
Kinnaman, too, brings a stoicism to Eric that on the surface detaches him from his daughter but it's clear that still waters run deep for him. Their relationship feels authentic, both in that Hanna is a smaller yet more powerful version of Eric and that they care about one another, in their way, above all else. It's Wiegler that is the hardest to figure out, although Enos does an excellent job balancing her changeable nature. You're never sure if she's acting out of self-interest, self-preservation, or a genuine (if possibly misguided) sense that she is doing the right thing.
At its core, Hanna is an action-based show and those scenes do not disappoint. But Farr is careful to layer in humor, intrigue, and love too. At times, there are a few jarring changes in tone. It's an action movie one moment and then, in a blink, it's almost a teen romance. But by episode 2, those changes feel more organic, like we are experiencing Hanna's own huge swings in emotion as she discovers life beyond her hidden cave in the wilderness. Creed-Miles bring a palpable curiosity to Hanna and it's magnetic. She makes friends first with a teenage boy helping at his father's logging business and then, more significantly, with Sophie (Rhianne Barreto).
Hanna and Sophie's friendship is layered with mystery because, of course, Hanna only knows so much about herself and she can reveal almost none of it to her new best friend. But Sophie's concern and friendship are so pure and unwavering it doesn't matter. Their relationship is often a warm comfort for Hanna (and for us) and a relief from brutality and survivalism.
If you enjoyed the 2011 film, you'll find plenty to like in Amazon's Hanna as well. With a compelling cast, superb action scenes, and grounding character relationships, it's a great way to spend 8 hours.