‘Hanna’ (Amazon Prime series): quick review

I just finished watching the two available seasons of Hanna on Amazon Prime. Hanna is based on a 2011 film of the same name.

This is the setup: A CIA program called  UTRAX alters a group of children’s DNA, in order to transform them into super-soldiers/covert assassins. (In the series, at least, all of the UTRAX program’s subjects are young women.)

Most of the girls (who are coming of age as the series opens) are happy enough to go along with the program. They have known nothing else, after all. But one, the eponymous Hanna, rebels. She is aided by former CIA agent Erik Heller, who is a surrogate father figure to her.

The Bourne Identity with teenage girls/young women, then. Hanna is both a coming-of-age drama and a conspiracy thriller. That could have been a disastrous combination. Thankfully, it isn’t.

The lead character, Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles), undergoes some of the expected slings and arrows of adolescence and young adulthood. These are compounded by the highly unusual circumstances of her birth and upbringing.

This means that she deals with peer rivalries, chafes against adult authority, and meets boys. The creators of Hanna, however, resisted the temptation to turn this into another Twilight, Hunger Games, or If I Stay. By that I mean: a story about a teenage girl that is so trapped within the teenage girl microcosm that it cannot appeal to much of anyone else.

Although Hanna has her first kiss in the first season, this is not a teen romance. Likewise, there is plenty of the expected teenage girl drama. (One character in particular, from the first season, comes to mind.) But this gets cut off before it becomes seriously annoying.

The producers also resisted the temptation to go in the direction of a youthful Charlie’s Angels. Many of the lead characters in Hanna are young women, and many of them are pleasantly attractive; but this is no cheesecake fest. This is not a series that attempts to dazzle the viewer (either male or female) with a succession of impossibly good-looking actors.

Hanna, rather, relies on an original premise (even if it does bear some similarities to The Bourne Identity), fast pacing, and lots of good plot twists that I, at least, didn’t see coming.

I enjoyed the first two seasons, and look forward to Season 3.

Watch Hanna on Amazon!