In the past couple of years, a trend has started rising which I’m a big fan of: Action-oriented spy movies, starring bad-ass women like Atomic Blonde (which I really enjoyed) and Red Sparrow (which I didn’t enjoy as much). They offered something different in story-telling, style, and action, in a sea of same-looking blockbusters, with the same world-ending stakes and overblown CGI budgets, that make me mostly yawn and shrug in complete indifference. I always thought “you know what? Luc Besson would make a good movie in this trend” and I was right! Lucy was good; the ending was comical and the premise was pretty dumb, but it had style, good action scenes, and a strong performance from Scarlet Johansson. But, he took another swing at it and…it’s pretty bad!
Anna is, in my experience, the most boring movie–not only of 2019, but also in Besson’s filmography. This is a director known to many for his dynamic female leads, but to me, I like Besson’s sense of style, his directing of action, and timing; Anna has none of what I like about Besson and his movies. It is a solidly directed and acted movie that never surprises the audience, where every concept is either flawed to begin with or is executed poorly. This is a genre that relies on constant shifts of perception and twists, as characters have hidden agendas or alternative motives to their actions, but Anna’s characters (while still adhering to those conventions) are so boring and are presented in such an underwhelming fashion that they make it hard to care for, or be invested in them and their struggles/goals.
To call this movie inconsistent would be a massive understatement; in one scene it’s cheesy b-movie spies, in the other it’s self-serious character drama; on the one hand the movie painstakingly tries to set up its grand plot twists in an organic way, on the other it glosses over important details on scenes and characters that would make the story matter; in one action scene its Atomic Blonde/John Wick-esque action, in the other its James Bond and b-movie mayhem. Regardless of which tone and style it chooses to go with, Anna never delivers and never raises any true interest from the audience; there are numerous twists in the movie, but each one gets increasingly convoluted and ridiculous, where any real tension that would have built towards the finale was killed off by the predictability of the twist (not necessarily of what would happen, but that something extremely dumb and “surprising” WOULD happen, like the movie has been doing for the past one hour).
I’m not calling Anna the most boring movie of 2019 because it’s the worst one I’ve seen so far this year; Glass was probably the worst movie I saw during 2019 thus far. In fact, there certainly are worst shot, acted, and produced movie out now and there are going to be a lot worse movies to come yet; if you want, you can still enjoy one of the best actresses (Hellen Mirren) having the time of her life and acting roles that she actually wants, you can still enjoy the b-movie thrills and action Anna provides. But what disappoints me the most, what makes Anna the most boring movie of the year so far, is the fact that this is Luc Besson directing and this is his next project after Valerian, and I hoped, wanted, and expected so much more.
I’ll leave you with this bit of information: One of the ways the movie shoots itself in numerous occasions throughout its duration is by having multiple, pace-breaking flashback sequences. Although there are a number of problems within them, what stuck out to me was that for each one of those flashbacks, there’s a ‘cut to black’ and the most dullest font informs the audience what the time transition is; this is how the director of The Fifth Element, Lucy, Leon the professional, Valerian, and Nikitta handles flashbacks in his newest endeavor. ‘Cut to black’ and then he tells you how far back the movie has gone; for me, you can’t get any less exciting, interesting, or stylish with your transitions to a flashback than that, and that’s what makes Anna a boring movie.