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Hanna by The Chemical Brothers


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Hanna (Soundtrack) by The Chemical Brothers
Hanna (Soundtrack) by The Chemical Brothers
Hanna (Poster and Memorabilia)

Hanna (Poster and Memorabilia)









Hanna (Soundtrack) by The Chemical Brothers

Composed by The Chemical Brothers
Back Lot Music (2011)

Rating: 3/10

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“The idea of making HANNA an assassin’s fairy tale of sorts is a very intriguing notion and ripe with musical possibilities,... which largely go unrealized. ”

Hanna, Bana, Foe, Fairy
Review by Christopher Coleman

With a Joe Wright film, we have come to expect creative storytelling, memorable visuals, and soul pleasuring musical scores from the hands of composer Dario Marianelli. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and ATONEMENT well rewarded both director and composer in 2005 and 2007 respectively.  In 2010, Wright began to venture out, leaving the romantic shores of Jane Austen and Iwan McEwan behind, to deliver the coolly received film, THE SOLOIST. Despite the film's critical failure, Wright nonetheless maintained his working relationship with Marianelli and gave us one of 2010's more inventive scores.   Wright's latest effort, HANNA, boasts a brilliant cast of Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, and Cate Blanchett in a location-hopping, modern-day, fairy tale, that just so happens to have a "Jason Bourne" playing the little princess.  A brave and intriguing combination.  No? 

But what sort of musical score would a movie comprised of such divergent parts demand? For HANNA, Wright tests the waters of experimentation even further by bringing on the famous DJ/Dance producers, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, to score their first-ever picture.  The big question, then, is whether Wright's visual storytelling and the Brothers hard-edged, electronic, explorations work well for a feature-length film and well enough to make audiences happy ever-after.

That question is answered at about the 30 minute mark of the film.

If you haven't seen HANNA yet, it might surprise you that there actually is no score for the first 30 minutes.  Now, this is something I might be inclined to complain about - but in truth, these scenes set in the seclusion in or near the arctic circle are the most engaging of the film and promise a more direct and traditional brand of storytelling than the rest of the film delivers. As the story progresses “Little Assassin Hanna,” who's lineage and existence appears dubious at best, must leave the safety of her confines and is swept into a world she only knows through books and her father’s instruction. She sets out on a modern-day-Grimm-fairy-tale.  Not only is Hanna thrust into a strange new world, but Wright's choices in the telling of her tale, sweep the audience along for the violently magical ride.

It is at that 30 minute mark that we get a taste of both the type action that is to come and the obtuse angle at which the rest of this story will unfold.  In the midst of the frozen Finnish wilderness, alone, Hanna faces the first tentacles of her nemesis and we get our first dose of THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS wand waving. It is also at this very point that we become painfully aware of the juxtaposition of music to the story. Here, and throughout the film, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS are most certainly true to themselves, providing an eerie mix of electronics that range from the spacious to the jarring including: reversed samples, high-pitch vocals and pulse-pounding beats, but are at odds with the movie's other components.  There's little in this film the warrants such a radically stylistic score.  While their sound is a great combination for a night at the club, it is a much less desirable audio environment for a film that had promised a concentrated and more traditional look at nuanced characters and the dynamics between them.

Admittedly, there are a few tracks well worthy of your best head-bob, but one need only look to THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS’ 2010 release of “Further” to find a better stand-alone listen than HANNA provides. The musical element that stays with you the longest is the little melody repeatedly whistled by your unfriendly, neighborhood, henchman in the film and is found in track 8 “The SandMan” on the soundtrack. The next most memorable track is “Container Park” (19), which was smartly pre-released before the film and used in the film’s trailer. The piece also, most adequately, underscores one of the surprisingly few action sequences in the film.

There are a myriad of tracks which have almost no listening-value on the soundtrack. Without the film’s context, they play as annoyingly brief experiments in sound design. Tracks like “Chalice 1” (3), “Map Sounds/ Chalice 2” (5) and “Sun Collapse” (15), evoke images of a mutated Geiger counter mating with burned out Atari 2600 or worse...with an Intellivision. On occasion THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS will drop a hard-hitting dance or break beat behind the synthetic chaos and thus provide some measure of a musical skeleton from which the listener has something to mentally hang on to. “Escape 700” (2), “Quayside Synthesis” (7), or “The Devil is in the Beats” (11), would be of the better of such tracks. Now, while I would have drooled over such cuts back in my high school days, I found them a bit wanting now...and certainly out of place and far too attention-grabbing when they do make an appearance in the film.

The idea of making HANNA an assassin’s fairy tale of sorts is a very intriguing notion and ripe with musical possibilities,... which largely go unrealized. However, the inclusion of a handful of pieces such as “Hanna’s Theme” (1, 20), “The Devil is in the Details" (4), and the aforementioned “The Sandman” do touch on the fairy-tale nature to some degree. This “fairy tale d’assassin” does allow the Brothers to include some music-box and calliope-like elements, which do fit well, but are too sparsely used and under-developed.  I'm convinced a more traditional approach would have made more effective use of these ideas.

In the end, despite another visually arresting film, featuring some exceptional actors, HANNA suffers a fatal split as THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS score wrenches attention away from the film, rather than further immerse the audience in it. For those predisposed to the duo’s electronic stylings, there may be much to like here, but I maintain that there are far better musical efforts to be found in the Brothers previous releases, and when it comes to the principle goal of an original film score, the music in HANNA is painful failure.


Rating: 3/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Hanna's Theme 2:08  ***
2 Escape 700 5:16  ***
3 Chalice 1 0:47  *
4 The Devil is in the Details 3:22  ***
5 Map sounds/ Chalice 0:15  *
6 The Forest 1:07  ***
7 Quayside Synthesis 1:21  **
8 The Sandman 1:45  ***
9 Marissa Flashback 2:44  **
10 Bahnhof Rumble 2:37  **
11 The Devil is in the Beats 2:35  **
12 Car Chase 4:58  **
13 Interrogation/ Lonesome Subway/ Grimm's House 4:25  **
14 Hanna VS Marissa 1:46  **
15 Sun Collapse 0:11  *
16 Special Ops 1:28  *
17 Escape Wavefold 3:21  **
18 Isolated Howl 0:42  
19 Container Park 3:45  ***
20 Hanna's Theme (Vocal Version) 5:28  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 50 minutes  


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