Not everyone was a fan of Director Joe Wright’s 2011 film Hanna, with its strange mix of revenge thriller and dark coming-of-age fairytale. But it’s one of my recent favorites for precisely those elements, driven by an exquisitely unsettling performance by Saoirse Ronan in the titular role. Now Amazon Prime is adapting the film into a series, written by David Farr, who co-wrote the original screenplay. Two teasers have arrived over the last few days, giving us our first look at the adaptation. There’s plenty of suspense, as befits the thriller genre, but little of the original’s magic.
(Spoilers for the 2011 film below.)
Hanna is raised in the wilderness by her father, Erik (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA operative who trains her in all the skills she needs to survive in the brutal world outside their winter fairyland. Ronan had this otherworldly presence of untouched innocence, combined with a ruthless hunter’s instinct, as we saw in the very first scene when she kills and dresses a deer. Shooting those early scenes in Finland set the fairytale tone perfectly, and it made the inevitable shattering of that peaceful solitude all the more powerful.
We eventually find out that Hanna was once part of a government program to genetically engineer children as trained assassins. When the project went bad, the children were all killed—except for Hanna, because Erik rescued her. Now the teenaged Hanna has grown restless and is eager to leave the nest. Her mission: to seek out the woman her father has told her will most certainly have her killed and to take her out instead. Only then will she be truly safe. “Children grow up,” Erik tells Hanna’s target, Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), when she asks why he resurfaced with the child he stole after all these years. You can’t keep them isolated in the woods forever.
Judging by the two short teasers released so far, the adapted series will follow the same basic storyline. In the first, we simply see a baby in a hospital maternity ward—except this ward seems to have unusually high security. We see the security cameras flicker on and off, and then an alarm sounds. An empty crib, with the name “Hanna” on it, tells us the baby has been stolen.
In the second teaser, a teenaged Hanna is walking down a city street, being followed by a CIA operative. The voiceover is his audio feed, warning him that the target (an “escaped asset”) is “extremely dangerous” and “trained to kill.” And the “escaped asset” proves it, taking out her would-be abductor with ease.
Comparisons are inevitable with such adaptations. What’s missing is anything resembling that other-worldly cautionary fairytale quality that made the original Hanna so evocative and memorable (even if those elements weren’t to everybody’s taste). And Esme Creed-Miles (Dark River) doesn’t quite bring the same blend of innocence and ruthlessness to the role of Hanna as Ronan—at least not in the brief glimpse we get here. Still, Amazon Prime has a solid track record with its series, so I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt. From what I’ve seen so far, however, they’ll need to flesh things out quite a bit more to win over staunch fans of the film.
Hanna drops in March on Amazon Prime.