A review of the 2019 Luc Besson movie “Anna”

No film written and directed by the French master Luc Besson is going to be dull – or ordinary. In some senses, this is Besson’s English-language revisiting of his French-language movie “La Femme Nikita” (1990) which gave rise to a Hollywood version “The Assassin” (1993) plus different television series in Canada and the United States.

In all these cases, a young woman who is destitute is trained to be a super-efficient killer for the state. However, the back story of the titular character in “Anna” and the overall tone of the work are more reminiscent of “Red Sparrow” (2018) where, in both cases, the assassin is Russian and there is a lot of violence and a fair bit of sex. If you like this sort of thing – and I rather do – it’s a lot of fun.

Anna is a beautiful Russian agent who goes undercover as a model and she is played by a newcomer to the cinema, Russian Sasha Lush, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 5′ 10″ model for the last decade and a half (see the similarity!). While Lush is new to the movies, she is backed up by some high-grade acting talent, including Helen Mirren and Cillian Murphy as top operatives in the KGB and CIA respectively. 

Besson is an inventive film-maker and here he plays a lot with timelines as he frequently flash backs to some months or even years previously in order to give us different perspectives on the same scene. This can sometimes be a bit tiresome but it does enable him to present some interesting twists in the narrative.

Since “Nikita”, spy movies have become more kinetic and violent – think Jason Bourne and James Bond – and this has had a impact on films with women as the lead action characters – think “Atomic Blonde” and “Lucy” – so Anna dispatches plenty of bad guys especially in a gloriously over-the-top sequence where she finishes up using a fork to make her point.


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