HANNA and the Top 5 Pint-Sized Killers of the Past 5 Years

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, USA (@peteramartin)
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HANNA and the Top 5 Pint-Sized Killers of the Past 5 Years
To call Hanna far superior to Sucker Punch is to damn Hanna with faint praise. Coming from director Joe Wright, who make the good-looking but dramatically unsatisfying Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and The Soloist, Hanna is a total shock, a compelling slice of action cinema, married to a lively dramatic story about a very special girl who's been trained to be a killer. Unlike, say, Hit Girl in Kick-Ass, Hanna, played by Saoirse Ronan with finesse, poise, and a tortured soul, is fully aware of the moral consequences of her actions, which is one of the things that separates the movie from the pack.

Other ScreenAnarchy writers will be chiming in with their views on the movie, so let's take a moment to celebrate the top killers of the past five years who may not be very big in size, but make up for it with ferocious hearts and a huge appetite for destruction.

5. Kick-Ass (2010)

As I wrote in my review last year, "It's a movie that gleefully dances on the grave of political correctness, readily serving up a young girl as a foul-mouthed, highly-trained assassin named Hit-Girl, played by Chloe Moretz. She is an action star for the ages." I've seen it twice more since then, and each time I'm further impressed by the young actress and the confidence with which she embraces a character who believes in the (un)reality that's been spun as reality to her by her loving father. It's a great role and she is scary good as a merciless killer.

4. The Machine Girl (2008)
For sheer body count, blood splatter, limb severing, and gut splashing, it's hard to top Minase Yashiro as Ami Hyuga. She looks like such a lightweight -- until her arm gets sliced off and replaced by a machine gun fit for mass slaughter. Her frame is so slender, it still looks like she'll topple over at any moment, which is part of what makes her so terrifying; you have no idea if innocent civilians will get caught in the crossfire.

3. Ils (AKA Them) (2006)
They're a lovely couple, a writer and a teacher, and they're perfectly happy living in an old house on a big piece of property in a remote area in the country, until strange things start happening late at night, and hooded figures appear in the darkness, figures who may not be physically imposing but whose actions put the couple in mortal danger. An unnerving, perilous night ensues.

2. The Children (2008)
How many times have you said, "Those kids are driving me crazy"? How about, "Those kids are gonna kill me!"? (Insert snarky comment in which you insist you're too young to have children. Fine. Imagine it's your younger siblings.) New Year's Eve with the relatives will never be the same once all the annoying little children turn into murderous little monsters.
1. Let the Right One In (2008)
Like the titular character in Hanna and Ami in The Machine Girl, Eli (Lina Leandersson) never set out to be a killer, but that's the lot in life that she's been dealt. It sucks, in more ways than one, and she wishes things were different, but at least she can stick up for her friend(s).

Over the history of cinema, it's rather shocking to consider how many movies have featured pint-sized killers! That's why I limited myself to the past 5 years. Feel free to add your own picks from whatever era you choose in the comments below.
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More about Hanna

butterstuffsApril 7, 2011 3:55 PM

Great list!! The Children was one of those rare goodies from Ghost House that was really effective and freaky, however Machine Girl was absolute dreck.

Ard VijnApril 8, 2011 4:33 AM

My favorite pure-at-heart pint-sized killers appeared in:

-Princess Mononoke (San)
-Leon (Mathilda)
-Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (Feral Kid)

Momo the CowApril 10, 2011 7:13 AM

Peter's list is great, but Ard Vijn's is closer to my heart, even if it does stray from the 5-year envelope. Before closing the door, I'd raise a glass to Sada from The Ring (or Ringu, geeku), because her size and physical abilities were actually inversely proportionate to her terrifying... ness?

On a more masochistic day than today, I'd recommend Aaron Kwok's doughy adopted man/son from 2009's "Murderer", but I already feel a heavy weight on my soul just name-dropping that cinematic scrotum.

MichaelMay 18, 2011 5:04 AM

"Dramatically unsatisfying Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and The Soloist"...???