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The Amazon-produced series, "Hanna" has received mixed reviews for this reimagining of a story originally told by director Joe Wright in the 2011 film of the same name. The series was originally developed under the leadership of English theater director and writer, David Farr who acts as showrunner for the first eight-part season alongside the director Sarah Adina Smith who would lead the production in its early stages. Farr had written the 2011 movie script from which the series takes its themes and overall plot.
"Hanna," tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who has been living an isolated existence in a Polish forest following her rescue from a Romanian government facility years earlier by the mysterious figure of Erik Heller. Erik has been working with Hanna throughout her life to training her in a range of activities such as hunting and fighting as the pair live alone in the forest.
Erik is living with his own guilt after recruiting pregnant women in Eastern Europe into a mysterious CIA-funded program known as UTRAX. The program was designed to allow the U.S. agency to take the children of the pregnant women and turn them into a form of super soldiers intent on leading the U.S. to global superiority over its enemies. Problems begin to arise when Erik falls in love with one of the pregnant women, Johanna and rescues her baby, Hanna from the clutches of the CIA. Despite the efforts of Erik, Hanna has already been physically altered to give her the abilities needed to become a dangerous assassin.
Despite the fact the story involves Hanna taking on the impressive strength and powers of a super-soldier, she is also a teenaged girl intent on living a happy, enjoyable life in the most normal way possible. Hanna's interest in living a normal life sees her venture out of the forest to discover the joys of everyday life and allows CIA agent, Marissa Wiegler to identify her as the missing child. Discovered by the CIA, Hanna is captured and taken to a facility in Morocco where she meets the English teenager, Sophie and glimpses the normal life of a teen. "Hanna" explores the emotions of a young girl as she looks to discover her own past and that of her family which includes a series of revelations about the actions of Erik in the past.
The showrunner for "Hanna" is David Farr, who is best-known for the work he has done on the London stage as a writer and director. Farr has a long and illustrious history in British theater despite only starting his career in the 1990s as a student director taking the Academy Award winner, Rachel Weisz to the Edinburgh Fringe Arts Festival with the award-winning show "Slight POssessions." Farr worked with theater mainstays such as Stephen Daldry before leading groups such as the Bristol Old Vic in the early-2000s and beginning to write for the BBC spy thriller, "Spooks." The work completed on "Spooks" led Farr to pen the film version of "Hanna" which was released in 2011 and directed by Joe Wright.
Actors do not come with much better of a pedigree than "Hanna" actress Esme Creed-Miles who comes from a major British acting family. Both her parents are well-known actors on film and the stage, Charlie Creed-Miles, and Samantha Morton. After appearing in the movie, "Mister Lonely" as Shirley Temple, Esme Creed-Miles did not appear on film for another decade until her appearance in "Dark River." After being cast in the title role of "Hanna", Creed-Miles has accepted two movie roles which will be released in 2019.
After introducing Esme Creed-Miles to the public in "Hanna", the producers cast the Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman in the difficult role of Erik Heller. The actor has a long history of working in film and TV in his native Sweden and in Holywood. Kinnaman came to the attention of the public for his role in the Johan Falk series of crime thrillers made for Swedish TV. Since making the move to the U.S., Kinnaman has worked on Hollywood blockbusters such as "Suicide Squad" and the rebooted "Robocop" franchise.
Although classed as the production of Amazon Prime, "Hanna" is created by a partnership of production companies, including NBC Universal International and Working Title Television. The first season was released on the Amazon Prime streaming platform with a second season already commissioned soon after the first was released. In order to ensure the series began with a distinct look and pace, the first two episodes of the first season were directed by Sarah Adina Smith who is known for the striking visuals of her productions. The movement of the characters across Europe through the first season is reflected in the choice of locations which spanned the continent of Europe from Hungary to the U.K. and Spain.
"Hanna" has been given largely mixed critical reviews in the press and on critical websites with most leaning towards the positive. Both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes give the first season a score in the mid-60s based on various reviews from viewers. Some professional critics believed the initial sequences of training and preparation were overly long and not matched by the subtleties of Hanna's realization she wants to live a normal life. The performance of Esme Creed-Miles as the titular character has received widespread acclaim among viewers and critics alike.
The release of "Hanna" was planned to accompany 2019's International Women's Day with the marketing of the series built around a series of strong women including director Sarah Adina Smith. Themes of strong women were built around the use of songs on the soundtrack by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer, Karen-O. The singer and Esme Creed-Miles even fronted a radio show highlighting the music of the series alongside the work of strong female musicians they admire. Although "Hanna" shares a story, writer, and many plot elements with the 2011 film of the same name, David Farr points out the longer time available to him allowed him to explore the journey of a young woman entering the world for the first time.