Trained to Kill
Series Review: “Hanna”
The captivating series based on the 2011 film, about a young girl raised in the woods by her father to be the perfect assassin. Until she discovers she’s not the only one.
Imagine a young girl raised in utter isolation in the Polish wilderness, by her former black-ops CIA agent father, to be the closest thing to a perfect instrument of lethal force. That’s the opening premise of Hanna, an utterly addictive original series on Amazon Prime, based on the film a decade ago and now starring breakout British actress Esmé Creed-Miles in the title role and veteran American actress, Mireille Enos as Hanna’s sworn enemy and opportunistic captor.
Enos plays Marissa Viegler, an off-book CIA agent who is one of the masterminds behind a deep state CIA operation called Utrax, an uber ‘patriotic’ hit squad the likes of which exist in dystopian nightmares and twisted authoritarian mindsets. She is a confounding presence in the series, and without a spoiler alert, suffice it to say that Marissa’s moral compass swings wildly in several directions before settling on an emotionally complex course around the middle of the second season, when she and Hanna broach a daring and thrilling partnership which still leaves you wondering whether to trust her or not clear into the third and final season.
Esmé Creed-Miles plays Hanna with a childlike, Eastern European-accented speech pattern, doe-like eyes, and a wicked right kick that knocks burly soldiers off their feet. Her violence and capacity to kill are swift and merciless, but never homicidal; she is a creature trained for combat, End-Stop. But she realizes the strangeness of her unique upbringing, and the first season has Hanna engaging in the natural curiosity about the world around her, leading to dangerous exposure for herself and her father, Erik Heller (played by Joel Kinnaman). What follows over the course of the first season is a brutal and diabolical discovery that Hanna struggles to come to terms with, only made more shocking in the second season in which she takes it upon herself to wage war with the very thing that wants her allegiance at all costs. By the third and final season, Hanna will stop at nothing to bring down the forces of evil which have destroyed everything she’s known as real, a mission she may or may not face alone or with an ally she hopes she can trust.
Like many of you, I was so impressed by the original film starring Saoirse Ronan (in the title role) that it took a leap of faith to jump on the train with Hanna, and what a ride it’s been. The show was only intended to last 3 seasons and — as is the case for the most memorable among the plethora of series out there — when the creators were true to their word, it was with a heavy heart that I bid adieu to one of the most quietly captivating characters in the action canon. This Hanna captures your heart even as she’s stopping that of another. It’s because she never acts with cruelty, but rather with instinct and a just sense of retribution that you root for her from the very first scene.
The fight scenes and action sequences are exceptionally choreographed in this show, quite beautiful despite the rampant bloodshed. Indeed they are worthy of re-playing just to appreciate the graceful symmetry and breathtaking backdrops in which they occur.
The series was created and written by David Farr and has been streaming on Amazon Prime Video from 2019 until its finale over Thanksgiving Weekend, 2021. As a female buddy story, a dystopian nightmare scenario, a father-daughter drama, a political cautionary tale, Hanna has it all. The character will also steal your heart. With little fanfare.
Hanna is presently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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