Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Went Wrong

I actually liked Hanna. I just didn’t love it.

When the previews came out, I thought it looked really interesting. Certainly an intriguing idea. But I believe it could have been better. Here’s why.

In my opinion, there was a big second act problem. As most of you know, the second act is when the main character struggles in their effort to obtain their goal. Which should be established in the first act, leaving us with a question in our mind at the end of that act: will they get it?

In Hanna, it seemed to me that Hanna’s goal at the end of the first act was to kill Marissa (Cate Blanchett) and then reunite with her “father” in Berlin. The problem? She thought she took care of the hard part of that two-part goal when she killed the woman she thought was Marissa. Except we know she didn’t. That left her only with the secondary goal of reuniting with her father in Berlin.

Now one could say that her goal at the end of the second act was to escape the “bad men” who were after her following what she thought was the successful completion of the hard part of her task.

Are you beginning to see the problem?

Yes, getting away from the “bad men” is a viable goal, except that we in the audience see the uncompleted goal that she doesn’t. Audiences prefer stories where they and the main character are on the same page when it comes to what their goal happens to be.

In the preview I saw, they showed the woman pretending to be Marissa talking to Hanna and we knew she was pretending to be Marissa.  And one could easily surmise that Hanna killed her. I know I did. Except I was also certain that Hanna would have known it was not her. Her “father” was pretty damn thorough about preparing Hanna for the task. Wouldn’t he have shown her a picture of Marissa? I know that Hanna gave the “test” regarding how they had met, but wouldn’t he also have given her some other way of identifying her physically?

I think the story would have been improved greatly had Hanna figured out that it was the wrong woman and killed her anyway in order to make her escape. Maybe it was just me, but Hanna’s encountering and traveling with the tourist family seemed to lack the necessary urgency required in a second act. Had Hanna been aware that Marissa was still alive and desperate to kill her and her “father”, I think there would have been more at stake.

Except for the mistaken belief on Hanna’s part, the first and third acts were good. It was in the second where this one went wrong.

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