Since as long as I can remember, badass women have been one of my favorite staples of action movies, especially Blonde women.
From Cynthia Rothrock in China O’Brien (my favorite badass queen) to Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, I have long loved blonde bombshells kicking the ever loving crap out of bad guys. So in 2017, when Atomic Blonde was released, starring the incomparable Charlize Theron, and directed by David Leitch, fresh off his co-direction of the instant action classic John Wick, I was certain we were getting another badass blonde action classic. But alas, it didn’t quite turn out that way.
As you can read in my review here, I wasn’t entirely fond of Atomic Blonde all that much. While the action was great, the plot was a mess. And I left the theater feeling a bit let down, as I was hoping it would be the big return of the badass blonde bombshell. But good things come to those who wait, and 2019 saw the release of Anna, the new movie from Luc Besson, the master of the badass woman movie. The trailer for it looked fantastic, and I eagerly awaited my chance to see it. And now that I finally have, was it worth the wait? Let’s find out!
Sasha Luss as Anna Poliatova
“Beneath Anna Poliatova’s striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the world’s most feared government assassins.”
To put it simply: it sure was! This is an awesome movie! Besson has given us a true return to form here, delivering one of the most entertaining action/espionage thrillers in recent memory. This was exactly the movie I was hoping Atomic Blonde would be. Great action, engaging story, excellent twists, and great performances all around.
Speaking of great performances, let’s talk about the cast. Newcomer Sasha Luss really makes a nice impression as the titular character, bringing so much gravitas to Anna that you would think she made more than 2 movies (Valerian, also by Besson, and this) up to this point. Genre favorites Luke Evans and Cillian Murphy also lend an awesome touch to the movie as the two men from opposite sides of the spy game who keep a constant, but loving eye on Anna.
But the real standout from the cast definitely is Dame Helen Mirren as Olga, Anna’s handler. Playing a career professional with a stone cold heart, Ms. Mirren truly lights up the movie whenever she appears on screen. She is such an exemplary joy to watch, and I wish she had more screen time in this. You’re a true treasure, Ms. Mirren.
Luc Besson Knows His Action
But now let’s get to the heart of this all, and that’s the action. Director Besson, the creator of such seminal movies as La Femme Nikita, Leon, and The Fifth Element goes back to his roots after the disappointment of his previous movie Valerian to give us another awesome shot of adrenaline in cinematic form.
Granted, the movie is not action packed, with only two real action sequences of note. But oh man, what sequences they are. The restaurant fight and the escape from the KGB headquarters are both worth catching this movie. The expert choreography in both sequences, but especially the restaurant scene are so incredibly exhilarating. No spoilers, but if you were wowed by what John Wick could do with a pencil, just wait until you see what Anna could do with a dinner plate.
Enjoyable Action that We’d Like to See More of
Any issues? Well, because the movie contains a very serpentine story, there are many jumps in time, and it did get trying a bit. Like I definitely understand why they were necessary, but it still had me like “Oh, brother… Another one.”
Also, there’s a scene in the beginning where Anna has the chance to leave a tense situation, and just doesn’t. Why didn’t she just leave? Well, if you watch it, it’s because we wouldn’t have a cool car chase scene if she did. But I feel like the character, and the movie, were smarter than that. But it is what it is.
But other than that, this was a very enjoyable experience that I want to see again and again. And I’m hoping it leads to resurgence of sorts to this type of movie. Let’s hear for the return of the badass blondes!