Joe Wright is turning out to be one of those guys.
By that, I mean he is a filmmaker who seems determined not to be pinned down, not to be defined by what he's done before, and whose technical ability is so innate that he can do pretty much whatever he sets his mind to, and he seems to do it well.
When you look at "Pride and Prejudice," that is not a film that immediately suggests that you hire the director for an action movie. My issues with that film are about the material itself and my own familiarity with it and weariness from seeing repeated adaptations of it. Wright's work was impeccable, and he displayed a real sensitivity with his cast as well as a great sense of how to stage large-scale scenes with invisible ease.
"Atonement" was, in my opinion, a big jump forward for Wright, and again, I was impressed by the way he was obviously demonstrating these unbelievable skills as a filmmaker, but in ways that were about the storytelling. It's a complicated film, based on what should be sort of unadaptable source material, and it really suggested to me that Wright is a guy who is going to be doing this, and doing this well, 50 years from now.
And if "Hanna" is any indication, things are about to get exciting.
"Hanna" tells the story of a former CIA operative who goes rogue, raising his daughter in the most remote location he can find, training her every day to be an unstoppable killer. There's a very particular mission that he's training her for, and it looks like the film is the story of what happens on the day that mission is activated.
Eric Bana plays Dad, and Saoirse Ronan, Oscar-nominated for her work in Wright's "Atonement," plays Hanna, the little girl who was raised like without mercy. I love that she's like a little animal in the trailer, right down to the way they've styled her. She's a wild creature, dangerous and weird. It's impressive at first glance. Cate Blanchett is the woman who seems to be the target of Bana's wrath, and from this first trailer, it's not inaccurate to describe this using Hit Girl and "Salt" as reference points. But still…
… no matter how much you want to reference "The Professional", you also have to admit that Wright's eye is evolving, and that action looks intense. I hope this turns out to be a movie that works on both the visceral and emotional levels equally, because the trailer promises something special, and I'd love to see it deliver.
"Hanna" opens in theaters April 8, 2011.