Anna Review: Luc Besson’s newest action thriller is a cliche and dull experience
While assassins are meant to be concise, quick-witted, and stealthy in approach, Luc Besson’s newest film, Anna, is the complete opposite and is just plain boring and confounding at times to boot.
The film follows Anna (Sasha Luss), a beautiful woman who uses modeling as a cover up for work as an assassin for the KGB. While she only desires for freedom from the world of covert operations, Anna is constantly sucked back in due to her deal with KGB operative, Alex (Luke Evans), and a higher up, Olga (Helen Mirren). However, things become complicated when an American CIA agent, Lenny (Cillian Murphy), uncovers Anna’s identity and forces her to become a double agent in order to secure her freedom. Now, she must use her wits to get her freedom and be able to leave her assassin life behind without many fatal consequences.
The major problem with Anna is how messy its story is and how it’s use of flashbacks and flash-forwards makes the film a confounding watch. There are constant attempts to unveil new information or show different sides to previous scenes through flashbacks, but these attempts on make things more confusing to watch. Often times, the film cuts back to three months earlier title cards to show reveal something “shocking” to the audience, but this done way too much and the more it happened, the more I just loudly groaned at it. When I’m watching a story unfold, regardless what it is, I want to feel like I’m progressing through it and that it’s building towards something. That doesn’t happen here and every time the film cuts to past, I either felt that all the progress that was just made was halted or that the new information was pointless and that it was just retreading over scenes we already went through. Not to mention, the reveals aren’t anything special or game-changing because it’s either so obvious or cliché.
Honestly, the whole double agent aspect of spy films is over-done and Besson doesn’t do enough to change or reinvent the formula with Anna. The performances aren’t really the problem here and for the debut of Luss as a lead, she puts in a solid performance, outside of some inconsistency with Anna’s accent. There’s never enough time given into Anna’s relationships with Alex, Lenny, or anyone else so when she betrays or keeps secrets from someone, there’s no emotional weight. Even Anna, herself, was kind of tough to connect to and while there’s some time given to her rough past and her desire for freedom is noble, I couldn’t really connect to her. Personally, the way Besson glosses over Anna’s training and early parts of her assassin life is a real deficit to the character and makes everyone’s obsession with her very strange. Not to mention, some more personal conversations about the characters would’ve made me tether to them a little more, which is crazy because there’s a lot of talking in Anna.
There’s actually way too much talking for the action, spy thriller Anna desires to be and it’s a shame because the sequences it includes are great. The action sequences of Anna tearing down enemy spies and bodyguards are very fun to watch and it’s nice to see her make mistakes and not be a perfect assassin necessarily. There’s also some nice moments where Anna uses the environment to her advantage and it leads to some fun kills. However, I will say that they aren’t shot in a particularly special or stylish way and even though it makes some solid use of its R-rating, they still don’t land that dominating punch they should. There’s also too few of them and way too much talking that isn’t exciting or riveting to watch so it leads to a very dull and boring experience.
Even the more comedic moments are far and in between and only work in certain sections of the film. The moments where Anna is pretending to be a model actually work as comedic breaks in the film, but aren’t utilized as much as they could be. Besson also attempts to create some humor in serious moments, but it comes off as unintentional so it makes the serious moments not have any impact or tension.
Though Besson and company attempt to create a sleek female spy flick full of tension and deceit, the only ones who are slighted are those viewing Anna. There’s a lot of wasted potential and time spent on trying to reveal twists and turns, but there’s never any sustenance behind them or the characters to make any of it matter. In short, instead of being thrilling, Anna is simply dull and cliché.