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'Hanna' Drops on Amazon Prime
March 29, 2019  | By David Hinckley

The TV version of Hanna turns out to be a weird and strangely endearing hybrid of a dark, lethal spy drama and a breezy, even cheerful snapshot of liberated youth.

Hanna, whose eight-episode first season becomes available Friday on Amazon Prime, is the latest production that lets a writer – in this case, David Farr – revisit and greatly expand a story he earlier molded into a movie.

The movie Hanna, released in 2011, starred Saoirse Ronan and differed in some details from the setup for the TV series. It also featured fantasy elements.

The core storyline, however, remains the same. Sixteen-year-old Hanna Heller (Esme Creed-Miles) has been raised since birth in an isolated shelter deep within a remote Eastern European forest.

Her father Erik (Joel Kinnaman) is a former mercenary who knows a secret that could be incredibly damaging to people in very high places.

That put him on the radar of the CIA, specifically agent Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos), who wants him terminated with extreme prejudice.

Marissa almost got her wish 16 years ago, right after Hanna’s birth, but only Hanna’s mother died. Erik got away and managed to set up the primitive encampment where he raised Hanna.

Erik uses their home, beautifully filmed to look so bleak and yet majestic that viewers will almost get frostbite just looking at it, as an extreme combination of Outward Bound and Parris Island.

Essentially he raises Hanna as an assassin, a warrior skilled enough to someday take out Marissa. He teaches her fighting skills and survival skills. He teaches her multiple languages.

She’s less schooled in social skills, because for her first 16 years, as far as we can tell, she has no contact with any other human beings.

That part of the story does raise a few questions. Hanna and Erik both seem to wear manufactured clothing, for instance, and Erik has tools like an ax that presumably he did not forge himself. Have they not needed any supplies or medicine for 16 years? We get the point, though, that much of their life is feral, and Hanna knows nothing of, for instance, technology.

That’s right, no cell phone. That, friends, is off the grid.

We join the story at the point, which Erik always knew would come, when the Hellers re-engage with the outside world and Marissa.

That jump-starts the spy thriller-action-conspiracy part of the story, which pits Hanna against all the experience and resources of an international intelligence agency that desperately needs to protect a dangerous secret.

Sounds like a fair fight, right?

But like Bridget Fonda’s character in Point of No Return, or Jodie Comer’s in Killing Eve, Hanna turns out to be more than a trained, programmed, robotic killing machine.

The pivotal scene in the setup episode of Hanna shows her possibly first interaction with any human being besides her father, and while she has no idea how that’s supposed to work, she seems to be a fast learner. She also brings curiosity and, already, a sense of playfulness.

She didn’t get that from Dad.

Again in a weird way, the setup seems reminiscent of a wildly different show, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, in which a woman held hostage by a kidnapper for many years suddenly has to adjust to other people and the world that has evolved while she was held in isolation.

True, Kimmy Schmidt is almost a screwball comedy, where Hanna throbs with life-or-death menace. But Hanna herself, once she gets out into the mainstream, will be dealing with the same stream of micro-situations where people expect and accept reactions she has no experience in delivering.

That could make Hanna awkward, or it could open a whole treasure chest of possibilities. Early indications suggest Creed-Miles could bring Hanna home a winner.

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