'Hanna': A Killer Grows Up In A Fairy Tale

Director Joe Wright's new film, Hanna, tells the coming-of-age story of a teenage girl raised by a single father in a remote Finnish forest.

Oh, yes, and did we mention — Hanna's father raised her to be a stone-cold assassin.

No standard teen heroine, Hanna — played by the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan — spends most of the film on the run, pursued by CIA agents and swiftly dispatching anyone who gets in her way.

This action-thriller is quite a departure for Wright, who's known for period pieces like Pride and Prejudice and Atonement.

"I like working outside of my comfort zone," Wright tells All Things Considered guest weekend host Linda Wertheimer. "I was so nervous of the action sequences, that I just tried to pretend it was like the dance sequences in Pride and Prejudice."

Hanna is as much fractured fairy tale as action thriller, something that becomes apparent when Cate Blanchett makes her entrance as the wicked stepmother character — a CIA operative with murderous intentions towards young Hanna.

"It's about a young person, growing up in the safety of a family home, who reaches an age where she needs to go and explore the world," Wright says.

In the story, Hanna encounters evil for the first time and must overcome it — at a cost.

"It is a fairy tale, and fairy tales, by their very nature, are violent and dark," Wright says. "In 'Hansel and Gretel,' two children take an old lady and put her in an oven. I think that fairy tales need to confront the dark side and overcome it." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.