HANNA "This shithole makes Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs look like a goddamn palace."

FACT: Kids are too goddamn coddled! Though they may be well versed in recycling and organic gardening, why isn't there a single Montessori school that teaches neck-snapping? The new thriller Hanna not only exposes these flaws in our school system, but does so in the guise of a rich, artsy thriller about a tween assassin on the run from the CIA.

The titular character (a doe-eyed Saoirse Ronan) is trained by her rogue-agent father (Eric Bana) in their wilderness home for what will surely be a bloody showdown with his obsessed CIA handler (Cate Blanchett, dressed like a malevolent Avon lady). Ready to fly the nest, Hanna is advised to neutralize the venomous handler—or else be endlessly pursued—and then rejoin her father in Germany. What follows is a fast-paced globetrotting affair dappled with action, twisty secrets, and Hanna merrily snapping necks along the way.

As artsy thrillers go, there have been better films—The Professional leaps to mind—but not by much. Hanna is on a journey of self-discovery, and though well prepared for assassins, skinheads, and gay sociopaths in tennis shorts, she's nearly overwhelmed by popular culture, friendship, and love.

And though the film's spiritual journey puts it an intellectual notch or two above the Bourne trilogy, Hanna is first and foremost a stylish, well-executed action flick. The fight scenes are visceral, the sprinkles of humor are sharp and on point, and Cate Blanchett—surprise!—is brilliant as the devil incarnate with a red bob and an alternating European/American Southern accent. While ultimately there's less to the plot than meets the eye, and the symbolism is occasionally heavy handed, Hanna remains another welcome addition to the kid assassin genre. (Note to parents: Is it gonna kill you to teach your kid how to strangle someone with piano wire?)