- Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans
- Luc Besson
- Luc Besson
- 14A (Canada), R (United States)
- Running Time
- 119 minutes
- Release Date
- June 21st, 2019
Anna is quite a confusing film – not only through its story, but also in its intention. The film follows the titular character (Luss) as she transforms from a Russian girl below the poverty line into a KGB Agent/French supermodel travelling and killing throughout the European union at the command of a Helen Mirren so covered in makeup and a thick, Rocky And Bullwinkle-esque Russian accent that they might as well have cast someone less expensive (which could have freed up money for a half-decent editor, but we’ll get to that).
Before the technical elements are discussed, the politics of the film should be addressed up front. Any film with a strong female protagonist such as this, especially one who is objectified, yet also uses her sexuality as a weapon as Anna does throughout this film will face criticism through a feminist lens. This article won’t be critiquing that aspect, as those with more insight into the matter should be tackling that avenue, but it should be noted, that despite having a somewhat feminist message, the film comes across as if it doesn’t care at all about being feminist. It’s rather strange to one minute have your main female character seemingly vulnerable and real yet still incredibly strong and resilient which is a side of femininity that is hardly seen on film, before minutes later having a twist reveal she was faking that venerability, and then minutes later having another switch the other way. It’s not something to be discussed here, but it is something that should be discussed.
Back to the matter at hand, Besson, the filmmaker behind the script and camera evidently put a lot of time into the film. You can tell everything was written with intention, and it certainly doesn’t feel cookie cutter or predictable. Quite the opposite in fact, Besson consistently over-writes and over-directs the film, turning what could have been the sleek, sexy final product he intended into a muddled, complicated mess, with more flashbacks and “six months earlier” title cards than you could shake a stick at.
Anna is a spy movie at heart, and so, as you would expect, there are a number of twists, reveals, and dramatic switches – so many in fact, that they start to become unintentionally comical, as if the film were an overlong sketch comedy about terrible heist films from the 90s. Every few minutes it seems that “everything we once knew is a lie” and characters seem to switch allegiances as often as this film has a jarring zoom, that is to say, far too often.
This brings us to the cinematography, which was confusing to say the least. There are times such as in a particularly well shot sequence in a closet where the camera will hold on a beautifully lit shot, slowly moving in to drive up tension, and it’s very effective. There are some action sequences that will hold on wider shots, displaying beautifully choreographed, balletic action sequences. Then, other times, the film will look like an episode of the office, with strangely miss-timed dramatic zooms, and will sometimes have action so over-edited you’ll swear you’re watching one of the Taken movies. It’s a bad mark on your film, if you could take shots from your action scene, cut them into any other bland action movie, and have a final product so rapidly edited and shakily shot that you’d not be able to tell the difference.
Now despite this being the only good aspect of the film, it is in a way also a negative, Luss, Evans and Cilian Murphy as Lenny Miller all give excellent performances. Despite the poor dialogue, the bad direction and the incredibly cheesy scenarios the film puts these characters in, all three of them, but especially a scene-stealing Murphy, put in compelling and real performances. At times Luss’ acting feels rather wooden and repeated, but given her stand out scenes here, it feels as if those could be chalked up to poor direction. This is great, only for the fact that these incredible talents (not to forget Mirren, who, although not displaying it here, is an excellent actress), are wasted in this d-list action movie, that will be, without a doubt, swept under the rug and forgotten about in a year’s time.
At the end of the day, Anna is not a good movie, it’s poorly executed in almost every regard, and its certainly not worth your money.
*still courtesy of eOne Films*