He will come half-dropped with his latest projects but, once, Luc Besson was listed as «the most Hollywood of the French directors», and that is one of the best compliments that can be given to the Parisian. Undoubtedly, the filmmaker left an indealable mark in postmodern action cinema, revolutionizing and tuning, not only the production methods (with his own europacorp company), but the stylistic aspect of a genre that was crying out for some fresh air. In his filmography we find hyper-violent thrillers, adrenaline-laden stories, ruthless killers and heroines, a bit of romance, and futuristic fantasies that, with some other exception, remain impeccable commercial works, but not for that reason devoid of a richness and visual beauty typical of the filmmaker’s imagination. Thus, Besson managed to stand out not only as a director, screenwriter and producer of his films, but of all those projects in which he is involved, with that mixture of excess, sleaze and bizarre special effects that – and this is no secret – he borrowed Hong Kong action cinema. This standard-bearer of the so-called «Cinéma du look» -movement that stretched between the early 1980s and the dawn of the 1990s, and whose exponents shared a visual quality that favors style over substance and spectacle above what narrative- he fell in love with «Subway» (1985), «Deep Blue» (Le grand bleu, 1988), «Nikita – The Face of Danger» (Nikita, 1990) and, of course, «The Perfect Assassin» (Leon, 1994) and «The Fifth Element» (The Fifth Element, 1997). From this point on, Luc’s work begins to blur between failed dramas such as «Juana de Arco» (Joan of Arc, 1999), the saga of «Arthur and the Minimoys» (Arthur et les Minimoys) and «Lucy» (2014), her return to the known terrain of the action without respite with a great protago female nista: Scarlett Johansson.
A land that refuses to leave, and to which it returns unscrupulously after the raucous failure of «Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets» (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, 2017) and the quasi-bankruptcy of EuropaCorp, with «Anna: The Danger Has Name» (Anna Anna Has a Name» (Anna Anna Has a Name» (Anna Anna Has a Name» (Anna Anna 2019), a poorly worn, recycled thriller, with too much tufillo in the 1990s and her own Nikita.Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss) is a beautiful and deadly killer who performs secret missions for the KGB, while posing as a model on the Paris catwalks. Anna’s life was not always so glamorous, and when she hit rock bottom, she had the chance to choose to serve her government, a five-year contract before embracing her freedom. At least it’s what Alex Tchenkov (Luke Evans), who recruits her and trains her for the tasks commanded by the unscrupulous Olga (Helen Mirren), tells her. Anna seems infallible, but behind her steps is CIA agent Lenny Miller (Cillian Murphy), who seeks to avenge the death of her operatives five years ago, when Vassiliev – kgB director – gave the order to eliminate them. Besson’s story begins in 1985, and comes and goes back in time somewhat scripply and redundantly; satisfies several of his fantasies (of course), and presents us with a rather implausible context and main character. The Moscow of the mid-1980s (or failing that of 1990) is not consistent with the slightest reality of a country on the verge of the communist debacle, and it is noted that the filmmaker does not mind sacrificing some authenticity to tell an empty and nuanced account that too much keeps similarities to that of Anne Parillaud.
Her Anna presents herself to us as an invulnerable superheroine, which never seems to be in real danger, although this disjunction is the motivation of the story and that of her own behavior, which will add up to a myriad of narrative twists. Besson wants to play with the viewer, but underestimates it every moment (rather, it takes us by smudges), falling into the constant predictability and in all known clichés of the genre. In this way, «Anna: The Danger Has A Name» is placed at the bottom of Besson’s filmography, precisely because of its lack of originality, its contextual inconsistency (that level of technology in 1990, really?) and a narrative structure that tries to be novel, but he only manages to disguise some of his flaws. For her part, poor Luss lacks the charisma of her predecessors, and does little more than walk around the screen with her slender figure and hand out kicks and bullets to troche and moche. Yes, Besson wastes a huge cast with Mirren, Murphy and Evans at the helm, and patches his failed tale with a bunch of banal super-action scenes (badly choreographed and unbelievable), and a cute protagonist starred who can, at times, distract and deceive the Viewer. We’d better save ourselves the ticket plate and see «Nikita» again.
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