Saturday, March 30, 2019

REVIEW: 'Hanna' - Hanna Is Raised in the Forest as a Killer But Grows Curious About the World in 'Forest'

Amazon's Hanna - Episode 1.01 "Forest"

In a covert Romanian facility, Erik Heller evades security to rescue baby Hanna. 15 years on, father and daughter live deep in the Polish forest. Erik has trained Hanna to be an incredible killer and hunter. Yet, keen to grow beyond the boundaries of her isolated world, she begins to venture away from home. This attracts the attention of CIA agent Marissa Wiegler, who has hunted Hanna since birth.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Amazon's Hanna.

"Forest" was written by David Farr and directed by Sarah Adina Smith

The new Amazon drama may not aspire to go too deep with its stories and characters at this moment in time. However, it is still an intense and taut drama in its opening hour. This premiere is all about the world-building right before it is completely blown up in order to get the narrative really going for the rest of the season. It's very contained though. There are really only a few characters of importance. Most of the running time is spent with Hanna and Erik in the Polish forest. That offers the show a unique sense of place even though this may not be an environment it will be returning to frequently. The premiere does end with Erik being on the run once more while Hanna is taken by the mysterious organization overseen by Marissa. It's clear that there is some kind of covert conspiracy going on here. The show is really just teasing these clues and the idea that Erik has more information than he is willing to share with Hanna. This is the life she has always known. It has always just been her and her dad in this forest. He has trained her to be a very effective and efficient killer. She can absolutely survive on her own in the wilderness. And yet, she has no awareness that she was actually taken by Erik and his wife from a mysterious facility that immediately retaliated in a brutal way. Sure, Johanna's death is a little cliche and expected. It ensures that there are severe life-or-death stakes to this story immediately. There is a reason why Erik is afraid of anything disturbing the reality he has created for his family. He has already lost one person to this conflict. But again, it's all about his reaction and how he manipulates Hanna with his understanding of the events. Sure, he is only now getting around to warning her that Marissa is the woman who killed her mother and can't be trusted. Of course, he has trained her to be inherently skeptical of any other human she meets. She hasn't actually met anyone else though. She has lived in this contained world in the wilderness. Erik has told her so much about the outside world. He has trained her so that she can survive in that environment too. They have a plan for where to meet should they ever be separated. She speaks multiple languages. She can present as innocent and weak when she is actually a cold and calculating killer. That doesn't explain why she was in this facility to begin with and why Marissa is so interested in her. She values Hanna's life when given the first clue in many years that she is still alive and actually still in the forest in Poland. That is a huge breakthrough even though it is still unclear what exactly is going on. Perhaps answers will be more forthcoming considering Hanna sacrifices herself to save Erik. She is whisked away to a black site where her entire reality may be questioned and challenged. She has already been pushing against the way that her father has always explained the world to her. He has preached the importance of her never going beyond a certain point in the forest. Her curiosity is what leads to their discovery. That too is an expected plot beat just because everything had to go wrong sooner than later. Erik won't get to live in the peace of continuing to grow old in this place. He has always been paranoid. But now, he is proven to have a right to be. Meanwhile, Hanna is still a teenage girl who is fascinated by the world and the ways that other people behave. Her first human interaction isn't with someone who wants to kill her. Instead, it's with a teenage boy helping his father with his logging business. It's all played innocently but there is also the undercurrent of tragedy bound to happen. It doesn't lead to death or some other tragic circumstance. Hanna evades capture at that point. But her skills will now be tested since she will get to experience the world like she has always wanted.