Anna (2019): The Posters.

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They say the 1950’s/60’s B-movie barons often came up with a movie’s poster before they even had a script. True or not, there probably are some drive-in classics and cult faves we remember more for their posters and lobby cards than the films themselves.

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“Mindless action movies with a glossy veneer of sexy artsy-ness” may be what some label Luc Bresson’s films. I won’t argue, but I also won’t say it’s an entirely bad thing. I will say that “sexy, artsy action films” better have good posters, and Bresson’s 2019 Anna starring Sasha Luss had some dandies, with a selection shown here.

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Sasha Luss’ Anna In Elle Russia.

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I’ll revive an old post from July 2019: Sasha Luss doing what she’s best known for (modeling) while doing a little timely promotion for her 2019 Luc Bresson film Anna in this espionage editorial lensed by Guy Aroch for Elle Russia magazine.

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Sasha’s Anna.

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Some dismiss Luc Bresson films as mindless action movies with a glossy veneer of sexy artsy-ness. To which I’d respond with, “What’s so awful about mindless action movies with a glossy veneer of sexy artsy-ness?”

La Femme Nikita, The Transporter, Lucy, The Professional…not a terrible resume, IMHO. I’ll blame myself for not knowing enough about the cloud of abuse allegations leveled against writer-producer-director Bresson to take a position, much less purge his films from my watch list. And that list includes his well-known projects and some that slipped in and out of theaters pretty quickly.

Sasha Luss stars as 'Anna' in ANNA.

Case in point: Anna, the stylish 2019 action thriller starring Sasha Luss as KGB assassin Anna Poliatova. Real-life fashion model Luss originally aimed to be a professional ballet dancer till she was sidelined by an injury in her tweens, soon turning to modeling (which she still does pretty well at) and then acting, Anna being her second film project. Here she plays a young Russian woman who escapes years of domestic abuse by making a deal with the devil: Undergo grueling KGB training, give them five years, and after that she can go free. Working undercover as a Paris fashion model (a real stretch for Luss), Anna’s particularly good at what she does (kill people) until her cover’s blown. Reluctantly agreeing to become a double agent for the CIA, Anna now faces a dizzying series of double-crosses and betrayals before she finally breaks free…or at least, achieves some sort of fragile truce.

Sasha Luss stars as 'Anna' in ANNA.

Some regard Anna as a derivative and inferior version of Bresson’s own La Femme Nikita (one hell of a film, as was its U.S. adaptation, Point Of No Return). I won’t argue, but I also don’t care. Anna is easy on the eyes, packed full of Luc Bresson’s trademarked action sequences, and even deploys credible costars like Helen Mirren, Cillian Murphy and Luke Evans.

Mindless action with a glossy veneer of sexy artsy-ness? Well, yeah..it pretty much is.

And that’s a problem?

Sasha Luss stars as 'Anna' in ANNA.Anna (Sasha Luss, left) and Maud (Lera Above, right) in ANNA.Anna 6

3 Days To Kill

3 Days To Kill

Luc Bresson’s 2014 3 Days To Kill was Kevin Costner’s movie, but sometimes it’s not the film’s lead that sticks with you. And though talented actors like Connie Nielsen and Hailee Steinfeld co-star, it’s Amber Heard’s portrayal of lethal CIA assassin Vivi Delay that really lingered with me.

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Costner plays aging CIA agent Ethan Renner, skilled but no longer at the top of his game, especially when he misses the chance to take out a ruthless international arms trafficker. Diagnosed with a terminal disease, Costner hopes to use his remaining days to reconnect with his wife (Connie Nielsen) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) who’ve never known the truth about his dangerous double-life, only that their husband and father was never there for them. But Heard’s Vivi Delay presents Costner with a bargain: A potentially life-saving experimental drug in exchange for his help to finally take down the criminal arms trafficking network.

3 Days To Kill 3Fun action-thriller chases, shootouts and explosions ensue, with Costner’s wife and daughter in jeopardy, all leading to a climactic kill-the-bad-guy scene…that chore finally falling to Heard’s Delay. Once the dust settles, it looks like Costner’s reconciled to spending his final days making amends with his wife and daughter. But Heard’s Vivi Delay looks on as he receives the final dose of the life-saving drug.

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Silly stuff? Sure it is. But 3 Days To Kill managed to make money even though it was far from a critical favorite. It’s not a ‘big’ film and employs many bigger-budgeted action films’ setups and tricks, and it may even leave you wondering where Liam Neeson is.

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But as I noted, it’s Amber Heard that stuck with me, even if I’m not exactly sure what made CIA assassin Vivi Delay who she is. Heard’s dedicated trainee, then cool and methodical operative, then decadent femme fatale and, finally, lethal killer (but with a soft spot?) sports various looks and sometimes may not make a lick of sense. But each of her character’s personas were a treat to watch, for me at least, and thus, so was the film, critics be damned.

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But She Doesn’t Look Dangerous…

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Bridget Fonda as convicted former drug addict Maggie Hayward, turned government assassin Nina in John Badham’s 1993 Point of No Return, a remake of Luc Bresson’s 1990 French film Nikita starring Anne Parillaud. Below, Fonda dodges gunfire in caps from a stunning action sequence early on in the film, when she’s assigned her first hit and the bullets start to fly.

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