Hanna cuts to the chase

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Hanna

By Matt Brunson

HANNA

**1/2

DIRECTED BY Joe Wright

STARS Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett

With a young girl as its steely-eyed, bloodletting protagonist, Hanna can't help but be compared to Kick-Ass, what with its steely-eyed, bloodletting Hit Girl. Bring it on: This is one film that can take down its competition.

While Kick-Ass was criticized in many circles for glorifying the mayhem exacted by its pint-sized heroine, director Joe Wright is careful not to allow the same charges to be hurled against his new picture. As ably portrayed by Atonement's Saoirse Ronan, Hanna likewise is out to avenge a dead mother, but Wright and his three writers treat her cat-and-mouse game against the person responsible — a hissable CIA operative played by Cate Blanchett — with a hardcore efficiency that eschews any sops toward gorehounds. But that's not to say the film is cuddly within the confines of its PG-13 rating. With even Hanna's dad (Eric Bana), the ex-agent who teaches her how to survive at all costs, opting for tough love instead of tender moments, this is a brutal and uncompromising motion picture — at least for the most part, until it cowardly tries to sidestep the obvious fate of some of its most likable characters, hoping that audience members won't remember to question it afterward.

The choppy denouement could stand to be longer — the film wraps up even as we're still trying to process new information and fill in the blanks (some of which remain glaringly empty) — but with its crisp action sequences and unfussy acting, Hanna is a chase flick that on balance is worth catching.

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