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film review

Sasha Luss plays 'Anna', a KGB assassin and undercover Russian model.Shanna Besson/Courtesy of Entertainment One

  • Anna
  • Written and directed by: Luc Besson
  • Starring: Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren and Cillian Murphy
  • Classification: 14A; 119 minutes


1 out of 4 stars

Helen Mirren, as Olga, says 'this' like 'ziss' and throws around lines such as, 'I work for the KGB, baby.'Shanna Besson/Courtesy of Entertainment One

When it comes to international spy films, do you think Luc Besson knows his Atomic Blondes from his Red Sparrows? You bet your assets he does. Which is why it’s a surprise that the French writer/producer/director of Nikita fame would turn in Anna, a near-parody non-thriller set in the Cold War eighties. Starring Russian model Sasha Luss as the titular KGB assassin (and undercover Russian model), Anna relies on a time-shifting structure that is laughably exhausting. Luss’s uncompelling character elicits no empathy – except when she cries to be free, which is something trapped, yawning audiences will surely understand. When she’s not sleeping with people or easily dispensing with feeble henchman – who taught them how to hench, Dr. Evil? – Anna mostly captures important briefcases. Helen Mirren plays a Soviet spy boss to the hard-boiled hilt, lighting her smokes with a hand-grenade cigarette lighter, saying “this” like “ziss” and tossing around lines such as, “I work for the KGB, baby,” through gritted teeth, as if trying out catch phrases to test audiences. As for Besson, if somebody needed to make a Nikita knock-off, one supposes it might as well be the man who made the original.

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Anna opens on June 21.

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