CONTAINS SOME MINOR SPOILERS
Much as I'd love to, I struggle to feel the love many others apparently have for this film. I suppose my reservations are the same ones I had for Kick-Ass, which I was similarly lukewarm about when everyone else was raving about it - a young girl raised as an emotionless killer. But while Kick-Ass played the character and concept for obscene laughs, Joe Wright's film comes across more as a cold European arthouse take on the rogue agent thriller genre. At least in Kick-Ass, Hit Girl does finally have the chance of a "normal" life, but what hope is there for Hanna?
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) lives deep in the forest with only her father Eric Bana for company, home-schooled in killing, weapons training and survivalism, and educated solely by Bana reading to her from an encyclopedia. But he's a former CIA agent who disappeared sixteen years ago with baby Hanna. And when the day inevitably comes that Hanna wants to leave, the long-cold trail is reignited and very soon the faceless legions of the CIA are right behind them.
There are vague allusions to fairy tales here - some of the action takes place in a rundown Brothers Grimm theme park (which I gather actually does exist), and Cate Blanchett is obviously the Evil Queen/Wicked Stepmother figure. But the film doesn't really give us much chance to empathise with Hanna. There's some thawing as she hides out with a slightly bohemian English family on a pan-European camping holiday, and there's a terrific scene in which Hanna first encounters the modern world - TV, kettles, telephones - after a lifetime without music or electricity (or presumably plumbing) - and flees in terror and confusion.
There's also a lot of punchy action scenes, which are perfectly well done, and quick-cut sudden death violence, which is perhaps inappropriate for the 12A certificate. Not that it's particularly graphic, but there's no moral consequence to the numerous killings, rather in the manner of a Rambo shoot-em-up albeit without the cartoonish gore. The ladling on of a supposedly cool but dramatically inappropriate Chemical Brothers score doesn't help either.
Ultimately I found it hard to embrace the film wholeheartedly: it's cold not just with the constant snow but with the lack of emotional connection that I think we are supposed to feel. Moments appeal (such as a supposedly one-take scene of Bana cornered by CIA goons in a subway) but overall I don't think it entirely works. A disappointment.