Starring: Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans
Director: Luc Besson
Running Time: 119 mins
Anna is a French film about a Russian woman who is drafted into the world of international espionage, taking up a role with the KGB. However, as she becomes deeper and deeper embedded in the field, she discovers the true complexities and dangers of being an international assassin.
Certainly a step up for director Luc Besson from his last female-led action thriller Lucy, Anna is a thoroughly enjoyable watch, with fast pacing, good action and a fun-loving espionage plot.
Saying that, it’s by no means a work of genius, often proving frustratingly cartoonish in both its action and narrative. As a result, while it is good fun at times, it’s hardly the most engrossing watch, and does little to stand out as a truly unique espionage thriller.
But first things first, let’s start on the bright side. Anna might not be a perfect film, but it is at least a lot of fun to watch. It’s well-paced, with consistent action, enjoyably eerie interrogations and more all the way through.
Couple that with a spy plot that – for all its rather cartoonish sensibilities – is still thoroughly enjoyable throughout. It’s simple, but with a fun-loving attitude towards the world of international espionage, Anna does more than enough to put a smile on your face.
Its action sequences are rapid, dynamic and most importantly a little bit more violent than dull PG-13 restrictions normally allow. So, even while the film isn’t entirely enthralling throughout, when it turns up the dial and the fun factor as the action goes down, it’s difficult to look away from.
All of that helps to make Anna a genuinely enjoyable watch, but there’s not much about the film that really stands out. For instance, its action is entertaining, but it lacks a memorably sleek or cool vibe like other action thrillers like Atomic Blonde.
What’s more, the film misses out on a consistent atmosphere of eeriness and mystery, undermining the core premise of its story throughout. As a result, Anna feels like little more than a generic action movie – enjoyable, but with little to set it apart from the crowd.
Its tendencies to depict action and espionage in the most cartoonish way possible is another thing that makes the film good fun to watch, but again undermines any attempts to develop genuine mystery and intrigue.
Fortunately, the film is squarely centred on delivering fun, action-packed entertainment, but there are moments when it tries to be more serious that are just really rather boring as a result of that focus on simple, cartoonish fun.
And finally, the performances here are generally disappointing. In the lead role, Sasha Luss finds herself in an awkward middleground between portraying an icy assassin and a vulnerable young woman – an interesting character dynamic that she struggles to play effectively.
Meanwhile, the likes of Helen Mirren and Luke Evans are little more than comical in uninteresting roles that require little more than the silliest Russian accents possible. And Cillian Murphy, although the film’s steeliest presence, does little to really bring more intensity to the table.
As a result, Anna really is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable thriller that blends good action with fun-loving tendencies throughout.
Yet, by lacking a striking atmosphere, any real narrative depth and with a collection of middling performances, there’s little that makes Anna a genuinely memorable watch. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3 overall.