It seems that once again Luc Besson is exercising that particular fetish of having a woman with the 14-year-old-boy proportions of a professional model indulge in lots of fighty kinds of chicanery and to be totally honest, it’s wearing real thin. It’s not like other filmmakers don’t indulge in their own interests now and again – how long have we been looking the other way at Tarantino’s foot fetish for example – but the main difference here is that other filmmakers – like Tarantino – are still making DECENT movies and not muddled splats of crap like Anna. There was a time that Luc Besson would only produce or write medium-budgeted, second-rate action movies which usually saw recognisable, bankable star beating on assorted villainous eurotrash until the credits rolled but now apparently he directs them too.
The plot, which somehow reeks of male fantasy even more than his previous film, Lucy, is as follows: The year is 1987 and Anna is a young Russian woman who lives in poverty with her abusive, criminal boyfriend and then one day, out of the blue, an agent for the KGB (Luke Evans working from the Russian Spy For Dummies playbook) turns up to recruit her. Accepting on the understanding that one day she will finish out her contract and move on, she agrees and then becomes a lethal seductress much in the style of every single female led spy movie you’ve ever seen. Trained by Helen Mirren’s tyrannical tutor (who is one dagger-shoe short of cosplaying Rosa Klebb from From Russia With Love) she is painstakingly inserted into a modeling agency (which is apparently easier than the KGB starting their own) and between photo shoots, where she acts like a dead eyed clothes horse, she assassinates people for her government like John Wick with a bob haircut.
However, eventually the CIA starts sniffing around (led by the icey eyeballs of Cillian Murphy who must have been at a loss between shooting series of Peaky Blinders and fancied some extra work) and soon her alliances are pulled this way and that in a script that contains more sudden clumsy flips than the act of an alcoholic acrobat.
Everyone involved seems very smug with a script that time jumps more erratically that Marty McFly on meth and truly expects us to believe that a drug addicted woman in Russian in the early nineties would actually own a mobile phone but a fucking LAPTOP of all things.
It’s also one of those irritatingly smug films that drops a huge twist on you without any warning or prelude and then immediately bounces back 6 months to explain it away. Now once or twice is surprising, maybe even charming, but doing it, like, repeatedly throughout the whole film just gets tiresome and actually started to feel like the film resented me personally in some way. Maybe I owed it money or something, I don’t know…
The leads do whatever is required of them, parts of Eric Serra’s score are pretty cool and a tip of the hat does go to Sasha Luss for carrying the whole misguided mess and for some strenuous fight scenes but it’s nothing that wasn’t done (moderately) better in Red Sparrow or Atomic Blonde and Besson really needs to recognize that his glory days of Nikita and Leon are long since behind him and that he really should move on.
And argument could be made that Anna is in fact a satire of the genre and that it’s flaws are a deliberate lampooning of the pretzel-like nature of the convoluted plots of spy thrillers but that still doesn’t explain away the fact that it’s not very entertaining and it certainly doesn’t explain away the fucking laptop.
It makes the CIA stand for Complete Illogical Arse.