This film is both an interesting study of the difference between a child raised in the wild and a child raised in a commercialized city, and a suspenseful psychological thriller. In it, a young girl (Saoirse Ronan from Atonement and The Lovely Bones) is trained since birth on how to survive and how to kill. Her objective, initiated by her father (Eric Bana), is to murder Marissa (Cate Blanchett), the woman who killed her mother. As the film progresses, you watch, not only as Hanna learns about the world beyond her snowy lodge in the mountains, but also as she slowly uncovers her origin.
The combination of a killer Chemical Brothers soundtrack, surreal camera angles, unique set locations (Morroco, Spain, and Germany), stellar performances by Ronan, Blanchett, Tom Hollander, and newcomer Jessica Barden, who embodied the over-saturated youth of today perfectly, made for an intense coming-of-age film. It's almost hard to believe it was headlined by a 16-year-old.
This film is what Salt should've aspired to: an even combination of serenity and intensity, balancing the violent and emotional scenes. Salt failed to make you feel for the character, but this film did well to slow down and patiently illustrate her perspective—how foreign the world was to her and how fragile she was despite her lethality.
My favorite scenes were when she first met Sophie (Barden), who was a consummate over-sharer; when she was seconds away from her first kiss, but reacted the way a cobra does inches from its prey; and the very first and last scene, which were almost identical, acting as her "graduation" scene. The film spanned the evolution of a killer and I'm far more interested in seeing the next chapter in her life, the way we all were when we first saw Bourne Identity, than I am Salt's.