DIRECTOR: luc besson (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, lucy)
starring: sasha luss, luke evans, cillian murphy, and helen mirren
REVIEWER: nick tonkin
Beneath a woman's striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the most feared assassins on the planet.
Anna is a spy thriller written and directed by Luc Besson starring Luke Evans, Helen Mirren and Cillian Murphy with Sasha Luss as the titular hero of the film. Young Anna has had a rough go of it in Moscow, having lost her parents at a young age and finding herself on the streets alone. She is swept into crime and through some kind of unfortunate luck she is presented with a choice: join the KGB or die.
The film opens with Anna being scouted for a modelling agency - she soon finds herself in high demand and on the arm of a Russian billionaire. Cut to 3 months later and she is about to put a bullet into this hapless Russian after learning his secrets. Cut to 1 year earlier and we see she her induction to the big leagues of the KGB. Cut to 18 months or so later (little hard to keep track at this point) and we see she has joined forces with Americans. More non-linearity ensues which only serves to frustrate rather than enrich or enliven the story and leaves one a bit disoriented.
Thankfully the action is riotous and thoroughly top-notch; the scene where Anna takes out a restaurant's worth of bad guys is brutal but well crafted - Sasha Luss certainly performs admirably amidst all her kicking of butts. However, it is the supporting cast that steal the show here; Helen Mirren is unrecognisable as a high level KGB agent, Luke Evans smolders away in the corner of scenes and Cillian Murphy gets to bring out his American accent and swagger as a top FBI guy.
The film wants us to think it is smarter than it is and this takes a toll. The non-linear approach to storytelling is the key culprit as this undermines your investment in Anna's journey, and is ultimately used for obfuscation until the surprise.
Anna is a good, fun watch for its great supporting cast and excellent action scenes, but is slightly undone by its rather unconventional telling.