Director Luc Besson has a very rocky reputation. He’s directed gems like The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional, and La Femme Nikita. However, he’s also directed films like Lucy and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. He’s written action films such as the Transporter series and the Taken series. So it’s hit or miss whether he’ll actually deliver. Let’s see how he does this time.
Anna (Sasha Luss) is a Russian model who gets trained by the KGB to become an assassin. Her contacts in the KGB include Olga (Helen Mirren) and Alex (Luke Evans). Eventually the CIA started looking for her, their point of contact being Lenny (Cillian Murphy). Anna just wants out, but how can she do that with both the CIA and KGB following her every move?
What doesn’t work?
We need to start with the negatives, which isn’t usually a good sign. This is a painfully boring movie and is not at all what the trailers lead you to believe. There’s only two action pieces in the film, both in the second half, and those are almost entirely the trailers you’ll see for this 2 hour behemoth of a film. This is not an action film, this is a character drama about a Russian woman trying to escape this life she’s found herself in.
And let’s talk about our lead, Sasha Luss, who director Luc Besson discovered while shooting Valerian. She’s convincing enough in these few action moments but she should not be relied on to deliver intense drama, so the most emotional moments of this film ring false. She’s not likable, not charismatic, you don’t feel anything for her character.
And for some reason Helen Mirren and Luke Evans play KGB officers and they both have horrible accents. I wish the movie was captioned because the accents in general are incredibly difficult to understand.
Also, just to add a dose of confusion to this slow journey, the movie repeatedly jumps through time, but not always in the same direction. Six months earlier. Five years later. Two years later. Two months earlier. It gets incredibly confusing trying to keep track of where these events happen in relation to what we know. And several times, we get a big moment with a twist, then we go back in time to see how that twist came to be. It’s confusing, though the movie would have been even more boring had it been linear, because nothing interesting would’ve happened till the last few scenes.
After all that, does anything work? The two fight sequences we do get are pretty awesome, though frankly they were edited better in the trailer, here they lack a certain punch. Still, it’s something. Once these scenes are posted somewhere on YouTube, check them out.
And aside from the accents, Helen Mirren and Luke Evans help legitimize this film a little bit. Not enough to really save it however.
You would think this film is an action film, like the next Transporter. It’s not. It’s a character piece with a few moments of suspense and intrigue. The movie has a painfully dull first half, which even a fun second half can’t redeem.