By James Lindorf
When season one of “Hanna” premiered in early 2019 allowed Writer David Farr to reimage his 2011 film of the same name. Farr incorporated critical elements from the movie, but with nearly 7 hours of runtime, he expanded on its mythology, giving the characters a bigger world to play in. While “Hanna,” the film is a one-off, when season one ended, it was just the tip of the iceberg of that new world that Farr created with the promise of big things to come. The movie and the first season are as much of a coming of age story as they are international spy thrillers. Hanna (Esmé Creed-Miles), the teenaged super-soldier, was raised and trained in the wildness by her father Erik (Joel Kinnaman) to identify and take on any threat. Season 1, that threat came in the form of CIA Agents Marissa Wiegler (Mirielle Enos) and Jerome Sawyer (Khalid Abdalla). By the end of the first season, Marissa would appear to be an unlikely ally. Still, because of how closely she guards her secrets, Erik and Hanna were unable to trust her fully.
As the second season opens, Hanna has returned to the woods, this time without her father and as protector to Clara (Yasmin Monet Prince), a fellow UTRAX subject. The loss of a second child has forced the UTRAX higher-ups to send in John Carmichael (Dermot Mulroney) to lead the program with his right-hand man Leo. His first course of action is to move the girls to The Meadows for the next phase of their training. Carmichael and his team are there will turn the girls from robotic soldiers into tiny sleeper agents. They provide them with new identities, everything from new names, hometowns, families, pets, and even hobbies. Once they have mastered their unique persona, they will be released into the wild as the ultimate killing machines ready to do UTRAX’s bidding. While things are ramping up at The Meadows, Hanna naively believes that she and Clara can live in the woods, hiding from the world, for the rest of their lives. As the days passed, Clara’s desire to learn more about her mother grew. Her passion inevitably leads to her being tricked and trapped by UTRAX operatives. If Hanna wants to save her friend, she will have to plan a rescue mission that will require the help of uneasy allies, old and new.
Season 2 of “Hanna” may not be on the same level action-wise, but there are still plenty of well-timed and choreographed action scenes. With so many new characters entering the arena, there are endless possibilities for who will be the center of the action. Though more often than not, it is going to include Hanna, Marissa, or Clara. What it lacks in punching power it replaces with some thought-provoking ideas. How far is too far when it comes to protecting your country? Does the greater good allow you to do anything you want to someone else? If you know something isn’t real, how much control can it have over you? Season 2 combines elements of “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Village of the Damned,” “The Stepford Wives,” and oddly enough “Seinfeld.” The plot hinges on George’s motto, “it’s not a lie if you believe it.” If the girls don’t believe in their new identities, they won’t be of use to the program, which would mean death. If anyone thinks you are lying, the best outcome you can hope for is being tortured in a dark cell before being released. Though once you’re there, without a plan, they will never breathe fresh air again.
“Hanna” season two has some flaws in its pacing. It is less about what happens than how it happens and the suspense of if it will happen. The problem with being the first step of a much larger journey is that it seems small. Most of the season, you wonder about the characters’ motivations and their plans’ undivulged details. At times this means there isn’t a single likable character. Everyone is either making bad or confusing decisions or is actually one of the bad guys. Having Hanna, Clara, and the rest of the girls questioning their place in the world is a great idea, but it may have stuck around too long.
Despite a few flaws, “Hanna” season 2 is well written, directed, filmed, and acted. It may not reach the heights of “Killing Eve” or Amazon’s own “Jack Ryan” at the moment, but “Hanna” has the potential to take them both down.
While gearing up for season 2, I was lucky enough to join in on a few press conferences to talk about the upcoming season.
Press Conference attendees:
Esmé Creed-Miles (Hanna) & Yasmin Monet Prince (Clara)
Aine Rose Daly (Sandy) & Gianna Kiehl (Jules)
Mireille Enos (Marissa) & Dermot Mulroney (Carmichael) & Anthony Welsh (Leo)
David Farr (Writer/Director)
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