Amazon TV series review: 'Hanna'

‘HANNA’ is an action-drama series on Amazon based on the 2011 movie which starred Saoirse Ronan (who has since been a recipient of several Oscar nominations) in the title role, with Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana. The TV series now stars newcomer Esme Creed Miles as Hanna, with Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, who are reunited here after their hit series, “The Killing”, which ran for four seasons.

The story starts with Erik (Joel Kinnaman) a former soldier who rescues a baby girl from a CIA facility in Romania called UTRAX. In flashbacks, we see that it was Erik who earlier recruited the baby’s unwed mom, Johanna, to give her child to UTRAX, an experimental program where the DNA of babies are enchanced to make them super soldiers. 

But Erik falls in love with Johanna who changes her mind and wants her baby back. Erik then helps her to retrieve her baby. The CIA agent in charge, Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos), chases them and Johanna dies in a car crash. But Erik and the baby managed to escape and get lost into the forest of Poland. 

We see Hanna 15 years later and Erik has trained her to fight and how to use guns. She has become an expert hunter and killer. But she’s restless and ventures into areas her dad has forbidden her to do so. This eventually calls the attention of Marissa who then hunts Hanna and Erik in the forest. 

They get separated while trying to elude their captors. Erik gets to escape but Marissa manages to capture Hanna and takes her to a Moroccan prison. But Hanna is adept at fighting and eventually manages to escape into the desert where she meets Sophie, an Indian-British teenager who’s vacationing with her family. 

Sophie becomes Hanna’s mentor as she’s like a fish out of water in the big city. She becomes a normal teenager and gets to dance in a club, learns how to drink beer, smoke and even engages in sex for the first time with a black boy at that.

Hanna eventually gets to Berlin and is reunited with Erik, but Marissa and her henchmen operatives are hot on their heels. This becomes a cat and mouse game where some folks are captured and manage to escape and it’s repeated again. 

Along the way, Hanna discovers the truth about her past and, for a while, holds it against Erik after learning she’s not really her birth father. Erik takes her back to Romania to meet her biological dad who now has his own family. Things don’t go well with them and Hanna runs after Erik with whom she has reconciled.

They’re now both threatened not only by Marissa but also a new villain, Sawyer (Khalid Abdallah), who UTRAX hired to replace Marissa, who thought UTRAX has forsaken its previous program. Erik and Hanna storm the UTRAX facility and what follows is an exciting climax between the bad guys and the good guys to free the other girls whose DNA were also enhanced, like Hanna.

The series hewed closely to the gist of the original film, but expanded it to explore more the father-daughter relationship with Erik and Hanna that is put into a test by Hanna’s curiosity about the outside world. The characters are better drawn out, including that of Marissa, who’s given her own family here, along with the friends of Erik who help him and Hanna in their escape plans.

Both Esme and Kinnaman do extremely well in their respective roles. Esme knows this is a make or break role for her and she gives it her all, making Hanna quite relatable. She starts as a blank slate, totally innocent, but curious, then rebellious as she becomes more and more aware of her past in a coming of age story. But she can also be a killing machine who uses her own body as a weapon, with no qualms of harming anyone who gets on her way. 

Kinnaman is one of the best leading men working today in Hollywood, whether in fims like “Robocop” or “The Informer” or in TV series like “The Killing”, “Altered Carbon” and the rest. He’s good whether he’s doing drama as a concerned lover or father or doing well staged action set pieces as a hardened soldier, turning his impressive physique into a weapon in itself. 

But Mireille Enos is also outstanding as the sinister Marissa. We first noticed her as the dedicated female cop in “The Killing”, which gave her the break to play Brad Pitt’s wife in “World War Z”. She’s a delight to watch as she never overacts but conveys worlds of feelings by mere nuances, by a half smile or a simple “hmmmm.” 

As Marissa, she gets to redeem herself before the series ends, making her character gray and not totally black. We’d really love to see her in more challenging roles.  And we’d also love to see the show’s second season which is scheduled to be available at the second half of this year.