Just over a year ago, Netflix surprise-dropped The Cloverfield Paradox upon the world, a feat of low-budget marketing that piggy-backed on the Super Bowl with a genuinely game-changing buzz. Last month, Amazon’s tried the same thing with Hanna, it’s new action thriller based on the 2011 film of the same name. The online giant dropped the first episode for 24 hours after the game, before leaving people hanging to binge the rest of the box set. Several weeks later, though, and the wait mainly makes you wonder whether the stunt release is the most striking thing about it.
Striking is certainly the word for Joe Wright’s cult favourite, thanks to its stylish visuals, pulse-pounding soundtrack and electric lead turn from the then-young Saoirse Roman. Stepping into her difficult-to-fill shoes is Esmé Creed-Miles, who plays the eponymous teenage girl, raised in the remote snowy woods by her father (Joel Kinnaman) to be ready for battle at any moment – and to be thirsty for revenge over the killing of her mother.
It was a compelling premise back in 2011, because Wright’s direction brought a twisted, fairytale aspect to the coming-of-age story, fusing warped weirdness with the on-rails action to gripping and often stunning effect. The Night Manager’s David Farr stretches the story out to eight hours to allow for more time to flesh out both our hero and the people around her, but it’s a tricky balancing act and, judging by the opening episodes, Hanna doesn’t always pull it off.
There’s merit in the approach, as the elongated running time allows for more chance to get to know Kinnaman’s stern but compassionate father, Erik – and see his secret agent counterpart Marissa, played by Kinnaman’s The Killing co-star Mireille Enos, pressurising Hanna from the other side of the narrative. And, in between, Creed-Miles makes the role admirably her own, with a sincere sense of awkwardness and vulnerability. That’s wonderfully showcased in Episode 2, which sees her (and us) spend a lot of time with selfish teen Sophie (Rhianne Barreto) and learn about everything from Snapchat to boys.
But when the action kicks back into gear, despite the occasional stylish shots during an escape sequence, it all begins to feel more generic than genuinely exciting – a shame, given the excellent work by the cast to find new depths to their roles. By placing a focus on character, Hanna the series ironically sacrifices its own character.
Hanna: Season 1 is available on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a£5.99 monthly subscription.