Five Things You Need To Know About Luc Besson’s ‘Anna’

Shanna Besson

When Anna drops this summer, the film will join a long list of movies about female action stars who kick-a** and take names on the big screen.

The thriller from director Luc Besson sees its main character, Anna, launching herself into a brutal, unforgiving world of intrigue. This blend of espionage laden escapism and gritty action is brought to life through standout performances and fight choreography. UPROXX is here to give you everything you need to know going into the theater on June 21 when Anna premieres.

1. Newcomer Sasha Luss’ Connection To Besson’s Past Films

Russian supermodel Sasha Luss popped up on the big screen for the first time in another Luc Besson epic, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Luss played the Princess Lihö-Minaa, who sacrificed her soul before her home planet was destroyed. In Besson’s latest action flick, she plays the titular master assassin everyone seems to be chasing, a good thing considering Luss is used to the limelight.

A Moscow native, Luss began her modeling career as a young teen. She’s since worked for campaigns including Dior, Chanel, and Valentino, walked in Paris Fashion Week for Balmain, and for Prada, Calvin Klein, and Lanvin. She follows in the footsteps of model-turned-action-heroines Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element and Cara Delevingne in Valerian; both of which were directed by Besson.

2. The Film Has An Impressive Supporting Cast

While Luss is a fresh face on the big screen, Besson’s supporting players are established award-winning actors with thrilling range. Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren plays the mysterious, heavily-accented Olga, who may or may not be one of Anna’s Russian handlers. In the film’s trailer, Mirren sports a dark wig and thick-rimmed glasses while smoking a cigarette and questioning Luss’ femme fatale, pointing to a tense relationship between the two women. Mirren’s appeared in action flicks before, but sussing out the motivations of her character seems to be our job (and Anna’s) as Olga might be the one pulling the strings.

Luke Evans joins Mirren as another Russian operative named Alex Tchenkov. Evans, whose eclectic film career includes a role in the Octavia Spencer-thriller Ma and The Fast and the Furious franchise, plays an agent of the Motherland with ties to our titular hitwoman. His relationship with Anna puts him at odds with the film’s other male lead, Cillian Murphy, who plays Lenny Miller. Murphy drops his dodgy Birmingham swagger – he’s been putting in time in the Netflix series Peaky Blinders for four seasons – for an American lilt, indicating he’s working with the feds stateside to figure out Anna’s identity and what she’s after. With a cast as capable and exciting as this, we will have to pay close attention to all the players in Besson’s cat-and-mouse game this summer.

Shanna Besson

3. This Femme Fatale Has Layers

The trailer for the film teases Luss’ complicated master assassin with a nod to the Matryoshka doll. As the characters describe the mystery of the Russian nesting doll, we see Anna don different disguises while she eliminates targets around the world. It seems no one knows this woman’s true intentions, not even those closest to her and her cover as a fashion model only adds to her enigma.

A Matryoshka doll distracts with its outer beauty and elaborate façade while hiding secrets at its core. It seems fitting the film would compare Anna, a woman who wields her enemies’ misconceived perceptions about her as a weapon to complete her mission, to such a puzzling figure.

4. The Fight Scenes Are Infused With Style

With a director known for his high-octane action sequences and a premise that revolves around super assassins and villainous spies grappling for power, Anna aims to deliver jaw-dropping fight scenes. The movie’s trailer focuses almost entirely on one such sequence, an all-out brawl in a crowded café between Anna and some thickly muscled bodyguards. Luss, who used to be a ballet dancer before transitioning to modeling and now, the screen, gracefully maneuvers around a dozen or so opponents in the clip, giving us the kind of realistic, no-holds-barred battle that’s so rare in the time of superheroes and space sagas.

Besson intends to emphasize the genuine viciousness here, tracking his star with a close-up as she utilizes thrilling combos from a variety of fighting techniques (our guess: Muay Thai and Sambo) before breaking out the big guns. Luss underwent extensive weapons training for the film, and her ballet background surely helped her pull off the kind of stylish mayhem we see in the trailer’s fight sequence. Having stunt-double Agel Aurélia around also helps.

Shanna Besson

5. It’s A New Kind Of Espionage Thriller

Imagining the secret exploits of global powerhouses, living in the shoes of skilled killing-machines with world-saving missions – it’s a welcome bit of escapism that only the cinema can offer, and Besson wants to shake things up with Anna. Anna convincingly trades blows with men twice her size while she uses her wits and experience to complete a more personal mission. The movie teases that Anna will discover something about herself when she’s made an enemy by those she trusts. At a time when spy thrillers can, on occasion, follow a hollow and repetitive formula, this take on the genre should stand out thanks to its deadly lead.

Anna debuts in theaters on June 21.