No, My Daughter Isn’t a Genetically-Engineered, Highly-Trained Assassin. But Still…

I finally (finally!) got around to watching Hanna, the 2011 movie featuring what was likely the deadliest pre-teen on the face of the earth. I had been interested in the film since seeing the trailer for it years ago, but like so many other movies, I simply never got around to it. Well, what fortuitous circumstances led to this viewing? My Amazon cart was $8 short of free shipping.



The film is similar to many other films in its genre. Rogue agent (Eric Bana) plots to take down a shadowy government sect (led by Cate Blanchett) and a weird subplot about genetic engineering that’s only obliquely explained. Basically, it was the Bourne Identity… but with a girl in the Jason Bourne role. Spoilers follow, but again, this movie came out in 2011. If you haven’t seen it by now, you’re good.

Mad spent the first 15 minutes or so watching it with me. She watched Hanna hunt and get attacked by her father. “Why is he doing that?” she asked me. “He’s training her to fight,” I said. It was easier than “My guess is that he’s trained her since birth to be a type of super-assassin in order to evade and/or attack an unseen enemy.” Because then I would have had to explain what an assassin is. And also what evade means. Well, Mad watched a few more scenes, noting that Bana read to Hanna like we do. Eventually, they started fighting again. “Why does he do that?” Mad asked again. “He’s getting her ready to fight,” I said. “But you wouldn’t do that to your daughter, would you?” she said. “No, Mad, of course not,” I said. “Yeah,” she said. She got on her hippity-hop and bounced away.

Nice look, dad.

Nice look, dad.

Bana’s character’s been in hiding for over a decade – roughly all of Hanna’s life – and decides she’s ready for their mission. She toggles a switch on a transmitter that allows for the shadowy government agency to learn of their location. He leaves, she stays. Her hope is to kill Blanchett’s character. When Blanchett is briefed on who the signal is likely coming from, the writers made it clear that she has history with Bana. “Why now?” she asks rhetorically.

Later in the movie Blanchett and Bana meet for the final time, the former with her gun on the latter. He exhales because he knows it’s over. “Why now, Erik?” she asks him. He replies flatly, “Kids grow up.”

I know it wasn’t supposed to be the point of the movie, but that scene was the only part of the film that actually moved me at all. Blanchett had been under the impression that there was some master plan or end game, that the timing of his return had some kind of meaning. It turns out that wasn’t true at all. Bana just understood that Hanna had reached an age when he would or could no longer be her caretaker. It was just time.



Granted I have not been raising Madison as a modern ninja, but I get it. I have a 7-year old daughter and when she comes to me with questions, she is generally satisfied with my answers. But I know there will come a time when my answers are no longer adequate. There will come a time when she will suspect I am lying, or at the very least, hiding the truth from her. Eventually, I will have to admit to her that I don’t have all the answers. Finally, there will come a day when she will begin asking me a certain set of questions to which I have answers, but I’ll have to tell her that they don’t matter. I will have to tell her that she needs to find the answers to those particular questions on her own.

I pray for two things:

That we’ll have raised her well enough to figure them out safely,


That I’ll have the strength to let her do it.


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