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Phil Mellows is a freelance journalist living in Brighton



Directed by Joe Wright (2011)

Superheroes are the fairy tale characters of the modern age. Hanna is the latest and between being trained to be a ruthless killer by her father she spends the long arctic nights of the Finland forest where sheís brought up leafing through Grimmís.

The other book in the household is an encyclopaedia. Like any other child, although she is like no other child in most ways, Hanna has her favourite bit: the section on music.

Hanna has never actually heard music just as she has never kissed. But she can tell you all the muscles required to kiss, which, some would argue, misses the point. Similar to one of her cinematic predecessors, Lisbeth Salander, Hanna is a bit too far along the autistic spectrum for comfort.

When she reaches 16 sheís ready to make her way in the world. Challenge enough for any teenager, even more so when the US state and its Euro-skinhead henchmen are out to track you down and kill you.

But Hanna is ready. And, landing up in Morocco, she has the good fortune to bump into a comic English family on holiday in their camper van.

This mini sitcom provides the best moments in Joe Wrightís rather good, rather entertaining film as Hanna gets to grips with what a teenage girlís life ought to be like, coached by daughter Sophie.

Thereís nothing new in providing comic relief in the middle of a violent thriller but this is especially well done. Jessica Barden as Sophie is better than Matt Lucas and Catherine Tate at the teenage girl shtick, though falls just short of Armstrong & Millerís British airmen.

In fact the acting throughout is pretty bloody good. Saoirse Ronan as Hanna gets the mix of ruthless killer and vulnerable humanity right. Eric Bana as Erik, her dashing hero dad, dashes convincingly, and Cate Blanchett as Marissa, the US intelligence chief out to get them, is brilliantly cold and desperate.

Itís well-written, by Seth Lochhead and David Farr, and Wright can handle the swoops and leaps in the storyline, the action and the comedy, and brings a surreal gloss to what is a fairly conventional sort of plot.

There were scenes where I was surprised to be reminded of Clockwork Orange. Perhaps it was the combination of the skinheads and the music.

We experience the music with Hanna. The joy of hearing it for the first time. Iím not a fan of the Bros Chemical, who provide the main soundtrack, but the hardcore flamenco I loved and thereís a scene in the camper van where they sing along to David Bowieís Kooks. We used to do that on school trips.

Donít pick fights with the bullies and the cads

Cos Iím not much cop at fighting other peopleís dads

Very clever. And terrific fun.

May 10, 2011

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