As you read this sentence, theaters on the East Coast will be midway through their first matinee screenings of Hanna, the new thriller from Atonement director Joe Wright. Saoirse Ronan plays the title character, a shy 16-year-old girl taught by her father to be a human killing machine, a skill that comes in handy when Cate Blanchett's team of CIA assassins start chasing her all over creation. Wright has been open about his desire to see Hanna become the new standard for lady action heroes, telling New York magazine he made the movie as "a reaction against a kind of prevailing sexual objectification of young women" and to express frustration with "the traditional, testosterone-driven, misogynist, right-of-center action movies that have absolutely no regard for their subtext whatsoever." The film has been wide release for less than 12 hours, but judging by the response from feminists to Wright's film and his reasons for making it, the character is quickly approaching icon status.
What Hanna is not
This isn't the first movie in recent months to feature a teenage girl on the warpath. Kick Ass and Sucker Punch both relied on a similar conceit. But while the heroines in those films wore suggestive superhero-type outfits on their rampages, a mixture of sex and violence Wright recently described as "very, very alarming," Hanna wears baggy sweatsuits. Jezebel's Dodai Stewart believes the director's refusal to exploit his character gives Hanna a sense of mission and depth of personality rarely afforded to women on the screen, especially not in action movies