If you’re keen for some aggressive spy action then you’ll be in for a treat because French sensation Luc Besson returns to cinemas with an extremely fast-paced spy thriller in Anna.
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.
While spy fiction always makes for great cinema, it’s very difficult to find a new angle into the genre and present the audience with something fresh. But this is Luc Besson we’re talking about, a filmmaker who continues to break new ground with every new project. With Anna, the filmmaker recalls his action cinema past with films such as La Femme Nikita and Leon: The Professional and the result is something that is packed out with adrenaline and originality. Setting his story around the conflict the multiple lives that Russian spy Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss) has to contend with and the result is something that hits you with an entirely different narrative. Besson also gives Anna an interesting retro point-of-view thanks to it’s Cold War setting, and this sets Anna apart from the current day spy films that we normally see.
Newcomer Sasha Luss finds herself with a very interesting role here as she takes on Russian spy Anna Poliatova who is coerced into the espionage life. From here her life becomes a dangerous ‘lived on the edge’ existence as she balances her undercover life as an international model with that of her more violent work as a honeypot assassin. Luss brings considerable sex appeal to the role, and she carries an elegance that reminds me of a young Sophia Loren. However, this girl also gets her hands dirty up on-screen and there are several fight scenes that really put her through paces as she has to impress her handlers and accomplish her mission in order to stay alive. Luss also takes us inside Anna’s head and she has considerable mental trauma to deal with this and this all makes things very interesting to watch as an audience member.
Standing alongside Anna as her handler and Russian spy master is Luke Evans as Alex Tchenkov, a KGB agent who becomes personally involved with Anna, and it’s a great part for Evans. Tchenkov is all business, and while the mission always comes first for him he soon has to wrestle with his emotions as he tries to keep Anna safe, and has to balance his love for her with his duties to the KGB. Along with his emotionally charged performance, Evans also brings a considerable East block cool to the character and shows off plenty of anti-hero charisma here. Cutting a cool figure onscreen, Evans makes a great foil for Luss to play off against and whether they’re fighting it out, or getting steamy in the shadows, they make a great pair up on the screen.
Finally, Cillian Murphy makes an appearance in this complicated triad as CIA case officer Leonard Miller and it’s an entirely different role, unlike anything the Irish actor has played before. Murphy’s Miller is almost the twin shadow to Evans’ Tchenkov and he’s possessed of cunning intelligence and hungry desire for revenge against the KGB. This results in plenty of adversarial actions on his behalf, and you never really know where he’s going to go as the character. I really enjoyed how twisted and complicated Murphy was as Miller and he’s a definite joy to watch up on screen.
When it comes to action and style, Anna is absolutely packed to the brim with it. As Anna takes on her targets, she becomes a killing machine and things get bloody quickly. The film’s highlight is an epic five-minute fight scene where Anna has to take on multiple adversaries and Luss handles herself with the intensity of a professional MMA fighter who is not shy of the carnage and she digs in hard. The film’s 1990s setting also gives it a very interesting stylistic look and there’s plenty of visual flair to keep you engaged with as an audience member thanks to its cross of spy action and high fashion.
If you’re seeking a cinematic rush, with plenty of glam visuals then Anna is definitely a movie you should check out, and with it’s twisting narrative and edge-of-your-seat thrills it will definitely keep you amped.
Image: Studio Canal NZ