I am baffled by Amazon’s adaptation of Joe Wright’s 2011 film Hanna. Aside from helping to launch the career of Saoirse Ronan, the movie itself wasn’t a particularly big hit (it made $40 million stateside, and only $23 million overseas). It was fairly well-liked by critics, largely for the performance of Ronan and the killer soundtrack from The Chemical Brothers, neither of which are on display in the Amazon series.
Perhaps the fact that the 2011 film wasn’t particularly popular was to the advantage of the series. Perhaps creator and writer David Farr (who also co-wrote the original movie) didn’t feel the need to shake things up for the television series because he assumed that so few people tuning in had already seen the movie. It’s the only good explanation I can offer for why Farr decided to basically remake his movie into an eight-hour television series.
Folks: The series is fine. The movie is better, and it’s the same thing, only six hours shorter. Plus, it has The Chemical Brothers. Save yourself six hours and watch the movie.
But if you haven’t seen the movie, and you would prefer to spend eight hours on the same story (or you have a preference for Mireille Enos over Cate Blanchett, or Joel Kinnaman over Eric Bana), the series itself is not bad. Esme Creed-Miles, who plays the title character, is not quite as impressive as Ronan, but she is very good. The story, which again is identical to the one in the movie (save for a few final act changes designed for a potential season 2), goes like this: Hanna is a teenager who has been raised all her life alone and secluded with her father, Eric (Kinnaman), who has been successfully training Hanna to become basically a super soldier. One day, Hanna strays from the designated area and attracts the attention of Marissa (Enos) and a bunch of CIA-agent types, who pick Hanna up with the intention of killing her. There, Hanna learns that she was part of a secret program and that Eric is not her real father. Hanna, however, escapes, which sets up a seven-hour cat-and-mouse game, during which time Hanna learns more about the secret program whence she came, while also kicking a lot of ass and dodging a lot of bullets.
The action sequences, as in the movie, are terrific and terrifically exhilarating. However, in an eight-hour series, they also come too infrequently, and we end up spending way too much time with Hanna in safe houses or hiding out in the homes of friends or associates of Eric. Kinnaman is a more than adequate substitute for Eric Bana here, and while I don’t want to say that Enos is better than Blanchett, she is different. Blanchett was a fantastically fun but cartoonish villain, while Enos is more grounded, and for reasons that eventually become clear, more sympathetic. She’s very good, and it’s fun to see her and Kinnaman share a few scenes together, reuniting after The Killing.
Ultimately, the series is good enough to watch if you haven’t seen the movie, but more importantly, I’d actually look forward to watching a season two, because it would finally mean seeing some of these terrific characters in a new story, which would mean getting a sequel to the 2011 movie instead of a remake. There’s a great universe with which to play here, and creator David Farr has already given some thought to what season 2 might entail, and Amazon has recently given Farr that opportunity with a second-season renewal.