Anna - 2019
Director(s): Luc Besson
Writer(s): Luc Besson
Cinematography by: Thierry Arbogast
Editor(s): Julien Rey
Cast: Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Lera Abova, and Alexander Petrov
I have a soft spot for Luc Besson as I grew up watching and loving Léon: The Professional (1994) and The Fifth Element (1997) - since then he has coasted, in my book, on the goodwill yielded from those two classics. I enjoy, to some extent, most of his films post-1997 but none have reached the same height as before. Now Luc is back, and once again he is placing a beautiful young woman in the middle of chaos and violence, as it is Sasha Luss' turn to murder her way to the end credits. Let's talk about it.
The story takes place in the 1990's Russia, as tension if building between Russian and United States, as the new leader of the KGB, has taken out all US operatives’ station in Russia. We follow Anna (Luss), a Russian spy working undercover as a model in Paris, France. Anna joined the KGB in hopes of escaping the poverty of the streets and gaining her freedom after completing her five-year contract. When she is informed that her contract does not expire, Anna starts to plan her escape at any cost.
This film is hilariously up its ass - as it is desperate to be far more complex and layered than it is with its predictable outcome and "twists." The film jumps back and forth in the timeline so many times ("5 years earlier" "3 years later" "6 months earlier", etc.), that I completely lost my bearings on when anything was happening. By the halfway point, I was laughing every time the film jumps back in time to reveal a new "twist" to explain Anna's actions. There are multiple head-scratching sequences woven in between the runtime that when a well throughout sequence appears, it feels like a cool summer breeze inside a desert wasteland. The action, for the most part, is exciting and well executed, even though there are some sped up shots to make the punches and kicks seem more potent than they are - I do love the fact that Luss did most of her stunts as it helps with the suspension of disbelief.
Quick note: the soundtrack and score of this film is god awful and distracting.
Anna is not a horrible film, and that could be my Besson soft spot shining through, as the acting from the entire cast is excellent, and there are some entertaining action sequences - yet they cannot overcome the repetitive nature and it hilarious overuse of flashback/flashforwards. Fans of Besson and action/spy movies will get something out of it, but for the most part, I would say it is not worth a trip to the theater. Wait for it to hit a streaming service.
Anna is a Streamer!
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