You could be forgiven for assuming that the supertitled introduction in the trailer for Hanna—“Once upon a time there was a very special girl who lived in the woods with her father”—was just a conceit of the marketing, but you would be wrong. The odd, dark thriller is packed with fairy tale motifs and themes, from the cottage deep in the woods, to the evil “stepmother,” to the feral predator stalking the naïve young girl. The visuals compound the effect (I’m only surprised that the heroine didn’t at some point don a red hoodie), eventually arriving—quite literally—at the supposed birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, with a closing image so audacious and evocative that I could only shake my head and grin.
The thing is, upon reflection, I’m not entirely sure what to make of Hanna, not completely convinced that all the once-upon-a-timing adds up to much beyond arty window dressing. But director Joe Wright has a lushly kinetic visual style, and the cast is terrifically game for the deranged little fairy tale. Hanna might not live up to whatever Grimm reinvention/deconstruction Wright was attempting, but it’s still a nervy art-pulp trip.