Pros: Good actors; unexpected plot twist in the finale; a couple of interesting fight scenes Cons: Banal dialogues; secondaryness and predictability; a lot of chronological and factual errors in the surroundings that undermine the credibility of the film Anna / “Anna”
Genre spy action
Directed by Luc Besson
Starring Sasha Luss (Anna Polyatova), Helen Mirren (Olga), Luke Evans (Alex Chenkov), Cillian Murphy (Lenny Miller), Alexander Petrov (Petr), Lera Abova (Maude), Eric Godon (Vasiliev), etc.
EuropaCorp Studios, TF1 Film Production
Year of release 2019
The films even start in a similar way. Nikita/Anna is a drug addict who takes part in a pharmacy/ATM robbery that ends in a shootout with the police/militia. All Nikita/Anna’s friends are killed, and she herself gets hooked on the DGSE (French intelligence) / KGB. Nikita/Anna is being trained as a special agent, and one of her first tasks is to kill an important target in a restaurant filled with people. Luc Besson, and in this case he is a director, screenwriter and producer rolled into one, quotes himself. Well, an entire generation has grown up without seeing La Femme Nikita, why not use the same techniques a second time? (It was ironic, if anything).
Again, this is the second time Luc Besson is trying to make an actress out of a top model. Last time he chose the Ukrainian Milla Jovovich and even married her (by the way, Besson’s first wife, Anne Parillaud, played the role of Nikita in the 1990 film), this time – the Russian Sasha Luss, who had already starred in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. And you know, in some shots Sasha really looks a lot like Mila in her youth.
So, Anna got a job in the KGB, and it was 1989, and began to lead a double life – a top model and a professional killer in the service of the USSR. Naturally, at some point she decides to escape the clutches of the intelligence services (hello, Red Sparrow) and starts her own game.
In general, Anna has a lot in common with Red Sparrow, and we’re not just talking about a trivial plot about a cunning spy who outwitted everyone. What Anna and Red Sparrow have in common is a disregard for logic, banal dialogue, predictable actions, and caricatured characters. And both of these films were shot by people who had absolutely no regard for the realism of the environment.
Therefore, in Anna, for example, drug addicts in Moscow in 1986, in a bedbug-infested apartment, use a laptop and fill out a form on a government website on the Internet (!!!). Laptops, and in 1989 they were already everywhere in the KGB (!), are equipped with USB slots (the connector came out only in 1996) and HD video cameras (!). In 1989, in the USSR you can call on a mobile phone and the KGB will answer from a mobile phone (the first cellular network started working in Russia only in 1991). A Zhiguli near the gates of the American embassy in 1986 rams a Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG (2012), which had nothing to do in Moscow at that time. Wrong mobile phones, wrong computers, wrong software. The number of inconsistencies in clothing, technology, and surroundings is so great that it simply undermines any confidence in what is happening on the screen. Of course, I understand that millennials who believe that dinosaurs went extinct shortly before the invention of Instagram will not notice most of the inconsistencies, but honestly, they can’t either. After the meticulousness and attention to detail in Chernobyl, this literally hurts the eyes.
But Anna’s problems don’t end with neglecting the little things. It feels like this movie, like Red Sparrow, was made in the mid-90s. And despite the fact that the roles of most of the Russians here were actually Russians, the number of cranberries did not decrease from this. All conversations of KGB agents take place here against the backdrop of scarlet flags, large inscriptions of the KGB of the USSR, busts of Lenin or portraits of Dzerzhinsky. The characters are as cartoonish and cliched as possible. The cruel and cunning mentor Olga (Helen Mirren); the demonic KGB chief Vasiliev (Eric Godon), who cuts off the heads of his opponents; stupid and suggestible Alex Chenkov (Luke Evans) and Lenny Miller (Cillian Murphy); a typical gopnik from the 90s, Peter (Alexander Petrov)… The latter, by the way, fits the character perfectly. Good actors, of course, try to somehow revive a half-dead script, and sometimes they even succeed. Helen Mirren is especially good, but to be honest, we didn’t expect anything else from her. As for Sasha Luss, she is still weak as an actress, although she generally looks good on the catwalk and in action scenes.
As for the spy intrigue, it is represented in Anna only by an unexpected twist at the very end. This is really difficult to predict. If we talk about fights and shootouts, then besides the cutting of Anna’s various tasks, the only things that are remembered are the scene in the restaurant, copied from Nikita, and the shootout in the KGB building. Moreover, the latter is rather in a negative way: this episode is very similar to a level from a computer game, and created by an amateur designer. Besson clearly really wanted to make a female version of John Wick, but he couldn’t care less about Chad Stahelski’s film.
Let’s be honest, the last good film from Luc Besson was called The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (surely many will disagree with this), and it was released in 2010. To be honest, I really like Valerian, despite all the criticism to him. In general, Besson’s heyday as a director occurred in the late 80s – mid-90s. last century and he never made anything better than Subway (1985), Nikita (1990), Léon: The Professional (1994) and The Fifth Element (1997). The maestro’s latest films are full of self-repetitions and banalities – Luc Besson seems to have written himself off.
The advertisement for Anna, in which the action film is positioned as a new work by the author of Lucy, does not lie. This is truly a film from director Lucy – meaningless and stupid. And what happened to the director of Subway, Léon and The Fifth Element, unfortunately, it seems we will never know.
Nikita with KGB and a bucket of spreading cranberries