Hanna, based on the 2011 film of the same name, is now an eight part drama series coming to Amazon Prime Originals. Written by David Farr, screenwriter of the original movie, the series tells a more intimate coming of age tale of a young woman with deadly skills combined with a political thriller.
Seeking to protect Hanna from the shadowy government agency which killed her mother and from which he rescued her from as a child, mercenary Erik Heller (RoboCop’s Joel Kinnaman) has kept his daughter isolated in the forests of Eastern Europe since she was an infant. Now at the age of fifteen Hanna (Mr Lonely’s Esmé Creed-Miles) is becoming a young woman with a desperate curiosity about the world beyond her father’s defined boundaries. Through the years of their isolation she has been taught to hunt, fight and kill. She has been educated in the cold facts of the world outside including languages and history but without the context that living in that world can give.
Being a new telling of an existing story, the early episodes will cover similar ground according to writer David Farr, but the later episodes will present entirely new material. Talking at the preview launch about the reasons behind retelling the story, Farr highlighted that “Movies are owned by directors, television is owned by writers.”
Director Joe Wright created a great film but Farr wanted to tell more of Hanna’s story with an emotionally driven perspective and back story that can only be done in a more expansive medium such as a series. Rather than being her father’s story, with a more male perspective, this will be told more through the lens of a young woman coming of age in a challenging and deadly climate.
The first two episodes are directed by Legion‘s Sarah Adina Smith whose clear love of nature highlights the stunning Slovakian forests and gives an immersive view of the world Hanna grew up in.
Farr’s writing, described by Kinnaman as “Nuanced, layered, sparse,” has minimal dialog, with the script trusting to the actors to convey the emotional context through looks and subtle gestures rather than lengthy exposition. It does not patronise or spoon-feed the audience, but lets them watch events unfold, and trusts them to understand.
Hanna’s father and Mireille Enos as the woman behind the agency hunting Hanna share a deep past that the audience only catches glimpses of early on, but having previously worked together on The Killing Kinnaman described this as “The perfect show for us to reunite on.”
The history between these two actors lends itself very well to these characters, having worked together so closely it gives an easy familiarity between them, allowing more to be conveyed with a simple look than cluttered exposition.
Esmé Creed-Miles’ subtle portrayal of Hanna shows a character perfectly capable of killing, but also a vulnerable and endearing young woman desperate to know the world outside the confines of her protective captivity. Longing for companionship beyond that of her controlling father, Creed-Miles’ subtle glances cannot help but make the audience feel for her.
As the series progresses it will show Hanna begin to deal with the outside world, moving from an environment where she knows every sound and movement into the loud and confusing chaotic world. Joining her on this journey will be Rhianne Barreto as Sophie, a ‘normal’ teenage girl and friend for Hanna to learn from.
The action sequences are good with meticulously choreographed fight scenes, no doubt helped by casting actors with a martial arts background, Enos being a black belt in Taekwondo and Kinnaman being a proponent of Brazilian Jujitsu, Creed-Miles having been taken to a master to train for some of their scenes together, however action is not the focus of this show.
The pacing of the show is gradual and the audience will need to go in with patience rather than expecting an action packed Bourne-like adventure, and for those who enjoy a slow burn Hanna will be one to watch.
Amazon Prime Originals have been very supportive of the production, but what will happen beyond the eight episodes and if there will be further seasons only time will tell; as Farr puts it, “I have a story I want to tell, I can’t say too much for obvious reasons.”
Hanna is available to watch on Amazon Prime from March 29th 2019