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With: Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Lera Abova
Written by: Luc Besson
Directed by: Luc Besson
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language, and some sexual content
Running Time: 119
Date: 06/21/2019

Anna (2019)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Roll Model

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Writer/director Luc Besson returns with another action movie that prizes swift economy and slick entertainment over depth or meaning, but with yet another cool, beautiful, and strong leading woman.

In Anna, Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss) is discovered selling Russian nesting dolls in an outdoor market and becomes a successful model. But as one suitor discovers, too late, she's also a highly trained assassin for the KGB. Her story leaps back and forth in time, to her humble beginnings as the miserable girlfriend of a low-life thief, and her initial recruitment by Alex Tchenkov (Luke Evans), with whom she forms a romantic attachment.

Her first assignment goes badly, and her superior, Olga (Helen Mirren), reluctantly decides to give her a second chance. She also crosses paths with American CIA agent Lenny Miller (Cillian Murphy), which changes her fate once again. In the end, Anna just wants to be free of it all, but must concoct an exceedingly clever plan to make that happen.

Anna reunites the director with supermodel Luss, who previously appeared as a princess in Besson's under-appreciated Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and unlike many models-turned-actresses, she's quite commanding and relatable onscreen. She manages the complexly choreographed action scenes with grace and skill, and otherwise effectively conveys the sheer overwhelming exhaustion of her situation.

Besson tries to get clever with his time-flipping screenplay that throws viewers back and forth to various moments between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s, and while the device is somewhat silly, and nowhere near as effective as it is in, say, Pulp Fiction, it actually does help keep a measure of mystery around the character.

Otherwise, Mirren is plenty of fun, chewing the scenery as a curt, unforgiving veteran KGB agent, and the two men (Evans and Murphy) are forgivably smitten by Luss. Anna may run a little too long (it's not as smartly compact as Besson's terrific Lucy), but it looks great and moves beautifully and feels like total, successful escapism.

The Blu-ray release from Lionsgate/Summit beautifully highlights Besson's pop visuals, and a Dolby Atmos audio track is energetic and bright. Bonuses include three short featurettes, on the film's costumes, the fight scene in the restaurant, and the car chase, plus a slightly longer, overall "making-of" featurette. It comes with a digital copy and a bonus DVD, and a few trailers at startup.

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