First look UK TV review: Hanna Season 2
Ivan Radford | On 03, Jul 2020
Warning: This contains spoilers for Season 1.
“Maybe it’s not meant for you,” someone tells Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles), after she asks whether she can change the song on the car radio. “Who is it meant for?” comes the inquisitive reply. That’s the kind of reaction you could easily have had to Hanna, Amazon’s TV series based on the 2011 Joe Wright thriller of the same name. It felt like a fool’s errand, attempting to recapture the lightning in a bottle sparked by Wright’s precisely composed visuals and Saiorse Ronan’s starmaking lead turn. But Season 2 of the action-packed drama sees the show grow beyond its roots, expanding its scale to something bigger, better and brilliantly intriguing.
A large part of that is its ability to take the time to build out its characters, from its diminutive but deadly protagonist to the CIA veteran who was determined to hunt her down in Season 1: Mireille Enos’ Marissa Wiegler. Their exchange about the car stereo in Season 2 is the epitome of their fascinating dynamic, one that’s able to be playful, affectionate and sharply witty, even as you suspect either of them could snap and start fighting the other at any second. There’s an understanding and concern that has emerged between them, and, although it doesn’t hit the heights of Hanna’s bond with her dad (the much-missed Joel Kinnaman), it’s never backed up by the same level of trust, which adds a gripping edge to their interactions – and an unpredictability to what each character is going to do next. Marissa, after all, did horrific things in Season 1, although they ultimately haunted her enough to give her a conscience.
And so, while creator David Farr (who wrote the 2011 film) doubles down on character depth, he continues to use it to build action. The further the series gets from Season 1’s opening episodes, which felt a little too similar to the source material, the better Hanna becomes. Season 2 makes that even more apparent as it opens up the sandbox for these people to play in, explaining in more detail the Utrax experiments that Hanna was a part of.
Now, there’s not just Hanna, but everyone else being raised as part of the scheme. At the end of Season 1, Hanna blew up the facility and made away with the one person who wasn’t entirely brainwashed, Clara (Yasmin Monet Prince), and we begin as they hide in the woods where she grew up. The series superbly navigates the shifting dynamics of that friendship, as Hanna tries to take on the mentor role that her dad provided for her, but can’t protect Clara from the Utrax organisation, now headed up by John Carmichael (an enjoyably sinister Dermot Mulroney).
And so we get to follow Clara independently of Hanna, as she is taken back into the arms of the Utrax facility, which acts like a cosy boarding school but actually trains children into becoming killers. Yasmin Monet Prince is excellent as the outsider desperate to fit in even as she fights against it, and her buttons are pushed unnervingly well by the impressive Anthony Welsh as Leo, John’s manipulative number two.
All of this is punctuated by a steady drumbeat of genuinely exciting set pieces, as fights break out with a real heft, accompanied by stylish camerawork and a slick soundtrack. The result is a gripping second season that sees Hanna come of age in its own right, outgrowing the initial film. This chilling tale effortlessly fuses teen drama and sci-fi with espionage thrills, all set within a compelling, complex universe. If you thought Season 1 of Hanna wasn’t meant for you, think again.
Hanna: Season 1 and 2 is available on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a£5.99 monthly subscription.