Anna is the perfect ´too-tired-to-think´film. It´s about a victim of domestic abuse (Sasha Luss) recruited by Alex (Luke Evans) and trained to be a spy. She´s put in the service of the ornery Olga (Helen Mirren) who runs the elite section and is trained to kill. But is she working for the KGB or for the CIA? Anna has affairs with KGB Alex and CIA Leonard (Cillian Murphy) whilst simultaneously pretending to be in love with a glamorous super-model, Nika (Anna Krippa) as a front to keep the rest of the men away. All want to tie her down in some way, none will let her be free. The story the film begins to tell is constantly reframed by flashbacks showing what really happened. But really who cares? It´s beautiful people having sex in glamorous settings with lots of shoot-outs in between. One can knit, glance occasionally at the tv for the kiss-kiss bang-bang and be certain one hasn´t missed anything. Even Helen Mirren´s performance, a fun showstopper, doesnt´t add up to more than a collection of clichés collated for effects (though, rather like Anna herself, they rarely miss their mark.
The film has obvious connections with Besson´s earlier La femme Nikita (1990) . I´m hoping someone will soon write a thesis on Besson´s woman-led action movies, including not only these two but also Lucy , perhaps contrasting them with other, smaller-scale series of male-led action films that Besson´s produced or written but not necessarily directed (the Taxi films, the Transporter films, the Taken films).
Besson is arguably the key-figure of the French ‘cinema de look’ films from the 80s. And the pleasures of those films – not to be underestimated — remain the pleasures of these.
Anna is showing on Amazon Prime, Lucy (2014)and The Family (2013), with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro are on Netflix. They´re different kinds of trashy, and each fun in its own way if one doesn´t demand or require too much of movies.