Hearing of Luc Besson directing a spy action-thriller titled Anna, you almost tend to think the dude’s got a thing for naming his films after their titular heroine. La Femme Nikita, Lucy... Anna – makes sense? Either way, when the trailer landed and showcased a mashup of a model in Paris and Atomic Blonde, that was enough to put it on the watchlist for this summer. And having finally seen it, gotta say that was – different.
The film begins in very Besson-fashion, US spies having their cover blown in 1980s Russia and the KGB sending a very bloody message to the CIA in the form of one spy’s decapitated head followed by the title card and a sex scene. The heroine, Anna (Sasha Luss), endures continuous verbal and physical abuse at the hands of her boyfriend and she enrolls in the what seems like the Navy in order to escape her hell. Later the next day, her boyfriend forces a post-grocery shopping Anna to join him on an attempt to break into an ATM. The robbery goes wrong and the duo make it back to their apartment where Alexander (Luke Evans), a KGB officer awaits them. The boyfriend meets his grisly end but Anna is offered a job – to work in the KGB and upon the completion of five years, she gets to go free. However, the head of the KGB, Vassiliev does not honor this agreement. Olga, played by a henna-dipped Hellen Mirren, acts as Anna’s handler and tasks her with various jobs – setting Anna up as a model in Paris which provides her with the cover to approach men and take them out. However, Anna pops up on the CIA’s radar and both agencies vie for a power struggle but Anna longs for her freedom and ends up playing a very twisted game.
The film jumps back and forth in time on multiple occasions, making the narrative a bit muddled but if you are paying close attention, the storyline eventually fits together. This is not to say that the narrative is a strong one, it’s actually rather clumsy but effective. There are quite a few issues with pacing but Besson shines with every single action scene and Luss does a fantastic job with the stunts (if that was actually her and not a stuntwoman!). Hellen Mirren and Luke Evans manage quite convincing Russian accents and Cillian Murphy provides a strong opponent in the form of Leonard Miller, a CIA agent. Luss could definitely improve in the acting department but given that its her first time carrying the lead role, she does a sufficient job and personally, I do hope she gets another shot on the big screen irrespective of how well this film does.
The film suffers somewhat from other spy thrillers that were released earlier – Red Sparrow has a very similar storyline and Atomic Blonde matches it up in the star and action departments. Besson doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, its pretty much the same story as La Femme Nikita but told in non-linear fashion, which might be its only unique trait apart from the stellar action scenes.
It’s not a children’s film, please don’t take your kids to see this one unless you want to cover their eyes for a good percentage of its runtime. Instead, grab a popcorn, turn your mind off for the film’s duration, pay close attention to the time jumps and you might as well enjoy the movie.
Courtesy of Akash SK