Luc Besson is best known for his hit pre-2000 films such as Léon: The Professional, The Big Blue, and The Fifth Element. In 2019 Besson released his latest film, Anna, a no-trills thriller set between a variety of beautiful locations such as Paris and Moscow. And at the epicentre we have Anna¸ an undercover KGB agent with a licence to kill indiscriminately.
The star is our light-blonde Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss) on the streets of 1990’s Soviet Moscow selling matryoshka dolls, before long she is snapped up by a scout for a model agency based in Paris. Within a blink of an eye she is whisked away to begin her new life in a modelling career and instantly seduces a partner of the modelling agency, who just happens to be an international arms dealer. And with that our story, and hers begin.
We are, however, left in awe of how unentertaining this flick is. Whether it’s due to the inability create a strong female lead, the rough acting, abysmal dialogue, or very poorly choreographed stunts. Any movie goer expecting a Soviet crime thriller with the same intensity as Bridge of Spies should stay away from Anna, and perhaps even the movie goer who enjoys all films should do the same.
From the top we have Sasha Luss, a former model turned actress who should think about stepping back into the modelling world an avoiding acting. A slightly sour taste is left in the mouths of those who watch Anna, the ability to act is a trait we find most desirable in actors; we do not find it here. Between the pointless mostly-offscreen lesbian subplot and the absolute lack of chemistry between Anna and her variety of lovers, we are enticed into viewing Besson’s poor imitation of Matthew Vaughn’s ultraviolent scenes seen in the likes of Kingsman: The Secret Service, which are definitely not saved by the shoddy camerawork and Luss’s inability to flow with the scene.
The blame cannot and should not be placed solely on Sasha Luss for this forgettable and unmistakenly inane film. As mentioned above, Besson has failed to create an interesting and strong female protagonist, or at least, the one he meant to have created. Olga (Hellen Mirren) is the true star of this film, a strong female character who does not give into every bodily whim and knows exactly what cards to play and when, unlike our Anna. Our (un)strong female lead is let down by Besson’s substandard writing, I can only hope Besson was attempted to humanise Anna, as giving into every bodily whim, being unable to control one’s emotions, and the inability to plan is not what makes a strong person, it is what makes a weak person, and as such, a weak protagonist.
The more perceptive viewer will have no doubt picked up on the lack of research gone into producing Anna. From the non-existent yet still present USB’s and small internal hard drives, to Olga’s laptop not only being able to play full HD video but also connected to some centralised KGB database without the connection of any wires (was Wi-Fi big in Soviet Russia? USSR-Fi?).
All Besson has to offer in this passionless and half-hearted film is one or two good scenes, Helen Mirren’s amusing though still uninteresting performance, and a two-hour time waste. I hope to see Besson direct and write better future films, and Luss to step back from acting. At least no-one will remember this film, that way Besson’s image isn’t too corrupted.