I recently finished Amazon Prime’s series Hanna, which is an adaptation of the 2011 film of the same name. I hadn’t seen the movie until recently, and I wasn’t entirely sure why the creators chose this particular film as the basis for an entire series. It struck me as a pretty straightforward action/thriller that worked well as a movie, so I was left scratching my head as to where the series would go, given that the film wraps things up quite nicely. Having just finished the eight episode first season, I’ll say it was ultimately a good decision.

Mixing equal parts The Bourne Identity and Leon: The Professional, Hanna trods familiar ground but compensates for its somewhat worn-out premise by focusing on its characters and cinematography. It reminded me a lot of John Wick, another much-loved franchise that takes an cliche-ridden plot and executes it so well that the viewer can’t help but find it refreshing and engaging despite its shortcomings.

I really enjoyed the character development and overall deepening of the story. While the movie introduces its characters and concepts with enough intrigue to propel the viewer along, the series thoroughly explores those ideas, giving them room to breathe. The overall effect is quite different from the film, but works in its own way. The show does deviate significantly from the movie in the end but still holds together. Both are excellent and worth a watch, showing how medium can completely change the overall effect of a story.

Special shout out to the actors and actresses in Hanna. I thought the casting was perfect. Even Joel Kinnaman, who I find a little stilted in most things, was great. Esme Creed-Miles steals the show, and it’s worth watching just for her performance. I really enjoyed the balance of action and drama, and the focus on emotion gives the action scenes meaning, making them that much more effective. I was also struck by the use of music. Every episode has a number of different songs, some diegetic, some not, that really set the mood and evoke what the characters are feeling.

Despite a few minor leaps in logic common to most action movies (why do the bad guys never securely tie up the hero before interrogating them?) and a couple of exploding cars that had me rolling my eyes, Hanna is a great example of action done right. It hits all the right beats plot-wise, with its twist, turns, and reversals coming at just the right moment. There were one or two elements introduced late into the series that I thought might have been better served coming earlier, but since it’s a short season, it didn’t really bother me.

I don’t have much else to say about this series. Go watch it. I saw it on a whim, and I certainly don’t regret it.

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