A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Anna is a sleek, violent action movie from director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) about a KGB assassin (supermodel Sasha Luss). Expect lots of intense martial arts violence, with punching, kicking, stabbing, slicing, and impaling. You'll see dead bodies and lots of blood, guns and shooting, car chases/crashes, and more. Anna is topless in one scene, sometimes wears revealing lingerie, and has sex with more than one partner. There are also scenes of passionate kissing, heavy breathing, clothes being ripped off, and a man in bed with two women. Characters talk about sex, and prostitution is referenced. Language is strong throughout, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "t-ts," and more. A supporting character chain-smokes cigarettes, social drinking is shown, and there's a reference to getting high. Anna is a strong, powerful woman, but she's also a relentless killer, and she never truly feels free.
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What's the story?
In ANNA, Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss) is discovered selling Russian nesting dolls in an outdoor market and becomes a successful model. But, as one of her suitors discovers too late, she's also a highly trained assassin for the KGB. Anna's story leaps back and forth in time, covering her humble beginnings as the miserable girlfriend of a low-life thief and her initial recruitment by Alex Tchenkov (Luke Evans), with whom she forms a romantic attachment. Her first assignment goes badly, but her superior, Olga (Helen Mirren), reluctantly decides to give her a second chance. Anna also crosses paths with American CIA agent Lenny Miller (Cillian Murphy), which again changes her fate. In the end, Anna just wants to be free of it all, but she must concoct an exceedingly clever plan to make that happen.
Is it any good?
Writer/director Luc Besson returns with another action movie that prizes swift economy and slick entertainment over depth and meaning, but centers on a powerful, strong leading woman. Anna reunites the director with supermodel Luss, who previously appeared as a princess in Besson's underappreciated Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Unlike many models-turned-actresses, Luss is quite commanding and relatable on-screen. She manages Anna's complexly choreographed action scenes with grace and skill and effectively conveys the sheer overwhelming exhaustion of her situation.
Besson tries to get clever with his time-flipping screenplay, which throws viewers back and forth to various moments between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s. While the device is somewhat silly -- and nowhere near as effective as it is in, say, Pulp Fiction -- it actually does help keep a measure of mystery around the character. In the cast, Mirren is plenty of fun, chewing the scenery as a curt, unforgiving veteran KGB agent, and the two main male characters (Evans and Murphy) are understandably smitten with Anna. Anna may run a little too long (it's not as smartly compact as Besson's terrific Lucy), but it looks great, moves beautifully, and feels like total, successful escapism.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Anna's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it shocking or thrilling? How did the filmmakers achieve this effect?
Is Anna a role model? What are her strengths? Where could she improve? Does she have agency? Why does that matter?
How does the movie depict sex? What values are imparted? How do they compare to your own values regarding sex and relationships?
What is the type of freedom that Anna seeks? Is such freedom possible? Do you feel free?
- In theaters: June 21, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: September 24, 2019
- Cast: Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy
- Director: Luc Besson
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, language, and some sexual content
- Last updated: April 24, 2020
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