Movie Recommendation: Over the weekend, I saw Hanna a taunt action flick staring a 16-year old female assassin! Amazing action and even more amazing protagonist, the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan plays Hana. She is chilling, intense, and human – a very interesting combination given the usual action fare. The plot is the usual “modern” rogue CIA ops type story, but it’s really all about the character here. And Hanna is an amazing character, definitely worth the price of admission - click on the title above for an interesting review.
In thinking about wuxia stories, it’s too bad that such interesting characters can’t be found in our genre, at least on screen. But let’s look for a moment behind the scenes of this movie. The director, Joe Wright, has done Soloist, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, a number of TV serials, and a few shorts – NO action movies. What did he have Saoirse watch to prepare her for the role of Hanna, an action character? The actress reports that she was asked only to watch the Peter Seller’s movie, Being There (1979)! Certainly NOT an action movie. Why? To ground her in Hanna’s quirky character. Wright did have Saoirse do a lot of physical training, which included martial arts, but no “schooling” in martial arts/action movies.
Wright is coming at the action genre from a fresh perspective. He’s drilling down into the character. And low and behold, the character is giving expression to the martial art. So we have a fully dimensional action character. Hanna is the heart and soul of the movie and what makes it so amazing.
For those of us engaged in working in this genre, there is a lesson here. We can tell stories set in our favorite settings, but should populate those stories with genuine characters by pushing the envelope when it comes to creating characters. As I’ve been advocating in this blog, the globalization of our genre allows us to create characters that appeal to a world-wide audience. It will be interesting to see how Hanna does in the international market.