Season 1, Episode 1
Date of release: February 3, 2019 (Amazon Prime)
Remaking films into television dramas is the new thing these days, and nobody is better at it than the streaming services, who figure they might be better off catching audiences with already established premises, while keeping them around with the weird stuff in their programming, which might sound unattractive on paper, but turns out to be quite spectacular (MOZART IN THE JUNGLE), even if I can’t say anything about the quality of these shows, since I haven’t sampled them myself. When Amazon Prime came around with the series order for HANNA, it was quite obvious why they would go down that route. HANNA happens to be a great film going against the flow of the action films of its era, and it’s memorable because of it: Not every fight sequence or scene needs to be edited to the death in the cutting room, and action films don’t need to have heavy action all the time. HANNA was splendid, because it managed to put a conventional super soldier storyline into a coming-of-age story, which happens to have great electronic music, as well as some nicely choreographed action sequences, all while also not forgetting and taking care of the characters in the story. Besides that, the 2011 film was almost always destined to be a television drama, as there was more potential in the story of Hanna living a life as an assassin from secluded and snowed-in woods, while also trying to grow up in a world she neither has seen nor interacted with. Now the only question is whether HANNA makes for a great television show, or if the effort was for nothing.
And after one episode, not much can be said about the show, after it only went through the first of many set pieces of the 2011 film. It’s not like watching a father/daughter team living in the woods and training for some special kind of Olympics that remind me of the Hunger Games is anything special for a television drama, especially when it takes over an entire episode. But not unlike the 2011 film, the Amazon Prime adaptation managed to capture the style and tone of the film, including the sometimes slow burn, and the waiting for something exciting to happen. The thing is, if the show is going to follow the film closely, not only will the show be extremely predictable (will we visit the abandoned Spreepark in Berlin again? I used to go there as a kid when it was still open and seeing it run down like this amazes me), but the slow burn will be much slower than you might like.
Unfortunately for the first 48 minutes though, there wasn’t a lot of character depth that got me excited about the next episode. Maybe the fact that the first hour keeps very close to the first set piece of the film (survival in the freezing woods), which creates instances of comparisons that is deadly for any adaptation of a well-liked original. Maybe it’s the fact that living in the frozen woods didn’t bring a lot of story and character depth on a natural basis, as Hanna and Erik didn’t do much outside of surviving in the woods, having no contact to the rest of the world, and putting themselves in training montages. And thank the heavens that there is a training montage in this episode, or else HANNA might have been a show missing the goal post more than once during its first episode. But yeah, one hour in and I don’t really know what is going on inside Hanna’s mind. She was kept from the world for 15 years, she was slaving over the training Erik pushed on her, she was starting to discover her own biology and emotion, and it seems like she was not as angry as it looked like in only one scene to have been kept away from the world. You might be a genetically engineered and trained assassin, but you are also a teenager. And teenagers are rebellious and try their darndest to humiliate their parents and do whatever the hell they want. And all Hanna wanted was to cross the red barrier on the trees and meet a boy whom she can smoke and hook up with? I don’t know, but shouldn’t the behavior of a girl raised in the woods by only one person be a bit like Nell’s, as portrayed by Jodie Foster in the 1994 film?
But at the end of the day, HANNA has quite an intriguing hour of exposition. The titular character, albeit wooden at times (are the woods to blame?), is about to blast off into a world she has never seen before after acting out her quickly written and delivered teenage mannerism, and I am really here for a coming-of-age story, in which the teenage character happens to be a bad-ass killer. Or a witch of sorts, like in Stephen King’s first CARRIE adaptation, and I simply had to think of it after Hanna got her period, and was probably in luck she was all by herself. If she were in high school and some of the other girls would have laughed at her, those girls would have had their necks broken minutes later. Although it looks to me like Hanna likes to cut throats, which I don’t mind at all, as the show does in fact need a little blood. After all, Hanna is supposed to be the trained assassin nobody can stop. She better throw some knives in people’s throats Jack Bauer style. By the way, that makes me think: How about a crossover with Hanna, Jack Bauer and John Wick? Charlize Theron’s ATOMIC BLONDE character can join them. Here you have your exciting new new cinematic universe.
Best part of the episode: Mireille Enos by a mile. She has the demeanor to play a ruthless villain, and one can only hope she will be one. It’s such a shame though she didn’t keep the short hairdo from the beginning of the episode, because that would have been a look against the established standard of television. Short-haired Marissa looked more evil than normal Marissa. Besides that, Marissa with a family is quite a twist. Let her be ruthless while also loving her dude and having a kid. It’s as equal a double-life as Hanna will lead between growing up and murdering her pursuers.
Worst part of the episode: Hanna’s one-night-only boyfriend, who couldn’t make up his mind whether he should find Hanna creepy or exciting. Even worse is that he didn’t get a bullet to the head after the satellite security man and his friends approached. Wouldn’t that have been a clue for Hanna that getting involved with other people kills them?
Weirdest part of the episode: The relationship between Hanna and Erik, and not because of what was shown on screen. It’s what was NOT shown that creeps me out. Seriously, you have two people living in a cave for 15 years, and there is no moment in which the two are crazy assholes trying not to strangle each other? No itchy feet and fingers during all these 15 years?
Player of the episode: Mireille Enos, again. I love her very much and I am already getting all excited about seeing her in another television show. Her involvement in ABC’s THE CATCH is entirely forgiven and forgotten now.