Review: 'Anna' a model spy thriller

Sasha Luss stars in writer-director Luc Besson's latest

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Sasha Luss in "Anna."

An absurdist romp about a superspy who just happens to double as a high fashion model, "Anna" is a delectable Eurotrash action fantasy that gets ahead of the joke by becoming the joke. 

Anna, gamely played by Russian model Sasha Luss, is a Russian secret agent performing dirty deeds for the KGB under her tough-as-nails boss, Olga (Helen Mirren, hamming it up). When Anna is compromised by a CIA agent, Lenny (a looser-than-usual Cillian Murphy), she becomes a double agent, working against Russia for the US. But all Anna really wants is her freedom, so she goes into business for herself and becomes a sort-of triple agent, which is when the movie fully embraces its own ridiculousness and becomes a heck of a lot of fun. 

"Anna" is a reset for Luc Besson, the madman French director behind "The Professional," "The Fifth Element" and the ambitious 2017 bomb "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets." He's well-versed in female spy territory — his breakthrough was 1990's "La Femme Nikita" — and in "Anna" he flexes by staging several bonkers action scenes, one cut to the millisecond to INXS' "Need You Tonight." (Imagine a less self-serious "Atomic Blonde," which wasn't as successful in marrying '80s pop music with stylized action sequences, and you have "Anna.") 

Besson uses a shifting time structure that pretzels its timeline, beginning in 1985, jumping ahead to 1990, rolling back to 1987 and then bouncing forward and backward so many times it becomes its own running gag. He's riffing on spy movies and their inherent double crosses and triple crosses, stopping just short of parody but letting the audience in on the trick. And thanks to Besson and a willing cast, the trick's a pretty good one. 



Rated R: for strong violence, language, and some sexual content

Running time: 119 minutes