Anna’s great John Wick style action sequences and lead actress Sasha Luss save the movie from being just another Russian spy story.
Score: 3 / 5
Luc Besson’s Anna feels a tad derivative… If you took 2017’s Atomic Blonde, and 2018’s Red Sparrow, add a bit more humor in place of darkness you’d get Anna. It’s not to say that Anna is necessarily bad, but it sure feels like you have seen this movie already.
Anna is a film about a young Russian spy who only wants her freedom men, the government, just everything. In this movie she moonlights as a Russian model in Paris and through it tangles with the CIA as well. There are twists, turns, double crossing, and triple crossing. It’s that typical spy story of the spy so good they’ll find a way to get out. In terms of plot, it’s not hard to piece together what will happen after watching about a third to half of the movie.
The major saving grace of this movie comes in the form of lead actress Sasha Luss, and the action sequences that her character has. If there is one thing Luc Besson is great at, it’s creating solid action scenes for badass women. The scenes where Sasha’s Anna has to really fight are the real gems of this movie. The inventive ways Anna goes about dispatching foes reminds me of John Wick more than Atomic Blonde did. Which now having thought about it, I would love to have Sasha Luss and Charlize Theron join the John Wick universe. Wouldn’t that be special?
Anyways, Sasha Luss may be a fresher face to big Hollywood films but I thought she did a great job being a likable lead. This movie didn’t give the opportunity for lots of range, but she had sparks of humor, pain, and desperation to go with her powerful assassin persona. Also who would have thought that casting an actual Russian for a Russian role would fit so well? Can we stop casting people who can’t do a passable Russian accent now and just hire national talent? We can dream right?
My biggest issue with this movie, was that the structure of events was a little ridiculous. I mean that in the first thirty minutes or so, the movie does flashbacks and jumps to different times way too often to give the audience the reason as to why Anna was doing something. It is focusing on the show don’t tell rule in stories, but this was a little too much show. Anytime there was a twist, get ready, you are going to get a flashback or a sequence of flashbacks to show-explain why this went down. It just gave me the impression that this story wasn’t structured in a way that the movie would get the audience satisfaction of the ah-ha moments. That and it was worried that you wouldn’t know why something went down, but like I mentioned at the start of this review, it was very easy to tell where events were going so it almost felt like these scenes were not necessary many times, where a line or even a photograph could have sufficed. I know that isn’t showing, but it really could of used less flashbacks to make audiences feel like they are too slow to pick up on what was going on.
All that said, even if the plot is the same as several other movies, Anna’s Sasha Luss draws you in with some really amazing action scenes that rival the mastery of the John Wick films, here’s hoping we get to see more of Sasha Luss as a bad-ass action heroine (cough John Wick 4 please cough).