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The 2011 film “Hanna” was a delicious surprise. Directed by prestige moviemaker Joe Wright (of “Atonement” and, later, “Darkest Hour”), “Hanna” played like an artist’s frantic attempt to cram in all the wild impulses he wasn’t allowed elsewhere, while retaining a certain fundamental elegance. Saoirse Ronan played a teen trained from childhood to be a killing machine for reasons that never quite become clear. Engaged in cat-and-mouse warfare with Cate Blanchett’s compulsive CIA officer, Ronan’s Hanna sprinted through dazzlingly constructed frames as a propulsive techno score (composed by the Chemical Brothers) blared — and the movie never lost its balance or its control.
That filmic achievement, the ability to remain upright in the midst of mania, is what makes Amazon’s new series adaptation of “Hanna” so disappointing. The new show lacks the glimmering creativity of its source material, and, perversely enough, it manages to feel overstuffed despite its relative lack of inventive flourishes. In expanding the lean story of “Hanna” out to eight episodes, the series has sacrificed the enigma at the story’s heart; that so many opportunities to do something visually distinctive get passed over ends up being the show’s greatest mystery.
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Ronan, here, is replaced by Esmé Creed-Miles, a gifted young performer who’s asked to hit a similar note over and over. Having been raised in extreme isolation, Hanna is unfamiliar with normal social customs, and her fight for survival is studded with moments of confusion and misunderstanding, as in her interactions with a family of vacationers whom she keeps meeting over and over. This naivete plays better at ninety minutes than a very slow-burning season, but Creed-Miles does her best. The other principals feel like a made-for-TV scaling-down of the parts played on film by Blanchett and Eric Bana: Mireille Enos is the...
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