‘Leon: The Professional’ director Luc Besson hasn’t come up with something good since the first 20 minutes of ‘Lucy’, will another film with a four lettered name in the title be the return to form he needs or should ‘Anna’ be sent to the gulag?
At a Moscow market, Anna (Sasha Luss) is picked up by a model scout and jets off to Paris. Though it soon becomes clear she’s working for the KGB and under tutorage from Olga (Helen Mirren) she racks up the kills, but this grabs the attention of CIA agent Leonard (Cillian Murphy) and Anna is stuck in the middle of two opposing sides.
A film with a strong female lead is thankfully becoming more the norm but there’s something about this film; which stars a strong and combat ready woman, that doesn’t feel like it would be empowering. Luc Besson instead hands his film a near constant male gaze with Anna serving kicks and spills but also serving as a figure to be gawped at. The skills of this Russian pro are evident but you can’t help but feel they’re overshadowed by the fact she’s dressed up and mostly down to flaunt flesh and look sexy whilst dispatching numerous henchmen.
If ‘Anna’ had been released 15 years ago, then 2004 audiences would likely be more receptive. It would be a better, more explosive spy flick but as it is, here in 2019, the movie sits like off-brand vodka. It’s a film with nothing original; there’s nothing in her take-downs or style that we haven’t seen before, even with the sleek Vogue gloss mirroring her modelling looks, this story is less than fresh.
An early restaurant brawl does neatly showcase Sasha Luss as a capable and kick-ass lead and it is the point in the film where you sort of feel the narrative and action is getting into its groove. That thought is short lived however, as it soon reverts back to fairly lame spy thriller tropes and generally it screams like Besson thinks his script is cleverer than it is; the annoying time jumps and twists are not anything to write home about. Only an INXS song injects a lively section of energy and their bop punctuates through a ridiculous but enjoyable montage.
Luss does grace the screen with a believable strength and she proves to be a model, not just with killer heels but killer moves too. The coldness to her expression is very Russian and there’s no denying she’s cool and hot but not even her convincing whip-smart assassin tricks, proven further in an embassy escape, can save this film from being cheesy and only mildly entertaining.
Dodgy Russian accents, overly sexualised visuals and a run of the mill screenplay make this a tepid watch, one that keeps Besson on trend of producing poor movies and at this point his EuropaCorp brand should be re-titled You’reOverCorp.