Luc Besson was the man behind the 1990 female led French action thriller Nikita. Now he’s returning to the world of female dominated action with his latest film Anna. The problem is that nearly 30 years later Besson has very little to add to a genre that has had a number of successful films in recent years with the likes of Salt, Atomic Blonde, and Red Sparrow.
In Anna we follow the titular young woman who is recruited to be an assassin in the KGB by one of its officers, Alex. From there we see a number of her assignments, with a big focus on her first where she begins undercover as a model in Paris, and after which she attracts the attention of the CIA’s Leonard Miller. Besson tells the story by constantly flashing back after various twists to see how we got to the change in the story, something that quickly becomes tiresome, and really covers for the fact that there’s actually not much to the film.
Anna herself is something a bit new for one of these action spy films. She’s a character largely driven by her emotions and desires, rather than the cool, calm, and collected types you would be used to in a spy film. While Sasha Luss does a solid job with this, it just makes her feel like a bit of a rubbish spy after the first 20 or 25 minutes. The supporting cast is exceptionally talented, with Luke Evans and Cillian Murphy playing Alex and Leonard respectively. But their characters are bland, and it feels as though Helen Mirren, who plays Anna’s boss Olga, is the only one really having fun with the film.
Really though predictable twist and uninteresting characters can be made up for with great action, just look at Atomic Blonde. However outside of one restaurant scene, which is being highly publicised in the trailers and marketing every one of Anna’s kills is a boring and simple gunshot to the head. There really isn’t much action to speak of, speak off after that.
Honestly Anna isn’t an awful film, it is just a bland and forgettable one with a single action sequence of note. And that’s such a shame given Besson’s past work can rarely be called forgettable.