When we first meet Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss), in the crime thriller “Anna,” she is an ordinary Russian doll seller. One cannot help but be suspicious of how quickly she abandons her life and follows a French model scout to try out modelling in Paris.
The suspicion is cleared in no time by the discovery that Anna was never a doll seller. Neither was she a model but an assassin. However, she did not want that life, so she wants out.
Anna became an orphan as a child. But if there is one thing her father left her with, it is her great chess-playing skills. Anna is intelligent but she has a history of abuse and confinement. All she wants is to be free.
So she decides that joining the navy would be here way out. While waiting to hear back from the navy, she receives an offer from the KGB to work as an assassin for five years. Coincidentally, KGB agent Alexander “Alex” Tchenkov (Luke Cage) makes her the offer on a night that she stared death in the face. And because Anna had been beaten-up by life, she accepted the offer to work for the KGB. What she did not know is that, no one gets out of the KGB. Once you are in, you’re in for life.
The crime thriller, “Anna” is Luss’ second feature film, after playing Princess Lihö-Minaa in the 2017 film, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” However, the 27-year old has had a longer career as a model, having signed her first modelling contract at just 13-years. Hence, her role as the titular “Anna” is natural to her. She does an appreciable job. Her first KGB test and fight sequence is memorable.
Yet, it is Helen Mirren who absolutely nailed her role as Anna’s KGB handler, Olga, in a most palatable manner. Anna has Alex wrapped around her finger. She hates her pretend life in Paris and unleashes her dissatisfaction on Alex, but Olga cannot be fooled. She is a mean, retired assassin who takes no prisoners. Olga becomes Anna’s greatest nightmare.
Meanwhile, the CIA are hot on Anna’s tail for the murder of a Russia billionaire. As a result, she has two demons to content with, Olga and CIA agent, Leonard Miller (Cillian Murphy). Routines are a bad thing and Anna has hers. She could end-up a victim of her routines.
The film is largely notable for its fast pace and structure. Anna gets most jobs done within five minutes. There is also plenty of action and it starts early. The fight sequences in the crime thriller, “Anna,” will make you to feel an Adrenalin rush similar to what you experience watching Angelina Jolie in the 2010 action thriller, “Salt.”
Frenchman Luc Besson who directed the 2014 sci-fi “Lucy” is the director of “Anna.” He captivates his audience early by telling the story in a non-linear fashion. He uses flashbacks and crisscrosses between the present and past in order to introduce plot twist. Initially, it works. But soon enough, the technique becomes the film’s undoing such that after a while, the audience expects a surprise from Anna and they get. In the end, “Anna” becomes quite predictable and it is disheartening.