Luc Besson captured my attention with Léon the Professional in 1994 and since then, I’ve wanted to love everything he’s done, but the man is incredibly inconsistent so it’s as if every other film is worth a look. However, he hasn’t really scored since 2014’s Lucy. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was a pretty misfire and now we have Anna.
The film, out now on disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, is another in a long line of admirable female empowerment tales. His French action-thriller has its moments, and a (literally) cheeky performance by Helen Mirren, but has a low-budget look and feel that never goes beyond the surface so every single character feels one-dimensional.
We are introduced to the latest find, Sasha Luss, a willowy blonde who can kick ass but pales in comparison to the far superior Atomic Blonde. At first, she is a down on her luck girlfriend to a drug dealing moron, but then gets recruited to work for Russian Intelligence, where she is trained to deadly perfection by Alex Tchenkov (Luke Evans), who then convinces KGB chief (or something, its unclear) Olga (Mirren) to take and use his new weapon.
Where the film succeeds best is its frequent time-bending storytelling so you only think you know what’s going on before they rewind and fill in some vital gaps. As a result, the story evolves and can intrigue you, but its utter vapidity and absurdness, staggers the imagination. Olga sends her into the field for a test with an unloaded gun and then we have the first of several high-octane set pieces that are too broad and comical to be taken seriously.
Along the way, she wearies of the life, and preferring to stay in at home with her model girlfriend Maud (Lera Abova) or find a way out of her career as a killer, undercover as a fashion model. She crosses paths with CIA officer Leonard Miller (Cillian Murphy) and he may offer her a ticket to paradise. Or not.
There’s a drabness to the photography, adding to a somber look with just flashes of color, usually Anna in various states of dress or undress. With the characters incredibly underwritten, a solid cast is given little to do except go through the paces and tick off the check marks. The action is either okay or over-the-top, unremarkable all around.
Such a weak state of affairs may explain is worldwide bomb at the box office, grossing under $30 million after a summer in theaters.
The film was released in an assortment of formats including Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD. Shot digitally, the native 2K high definition transfer is perfectly fine if as unexceptional as the film itself. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is up to the task for every punch and tire squeal.
There are a handful of average special features including Dressing a Doll: The Costumes of Anna (8:06); Anatomy of a Scene: The Restaurant Fight (6:41); Unnesting a Russian Doll: Making Anna (13:57); and Constructing the Car Chase (5:40).