All Anna Politova ever wanted was a normal life. Orphaned at a young age, she grew up in Moscow suffering abuse, meddling in drugs and subsisting below the poverty line.
With non-existent self-esteem and dwindling hope in the world, Anna decides one night to end it all. But on the verge of death, she’s given a choice at the last minute by a mysterious man: serve for five years in the KGB as an operative or die.
Choosing the former, she embarks on a life filled with extreme violence—one that is continually dictated by her communist government.
When her five-year mark approaches, Anna learns that her promised independence was a lie. Distraught and embittered, she realizes that she alone holds the key to her own freedom.
But deliverance will come at a violent price.
Anna, a resilient, courageous woman, has no inner desire to become a violent KGB agent. But she’s motivated to accept that job if it means securing her freedom, a hope she cherishes.
Many movies like this one choose to depict fierce heroines as strong but emotionless. To her credit, that’s not the case with Anna. Though she unleashes brutal violence throughout the film, it’s clear that such death-dealing is far too much for her. In one scene, she breaks down, crying. Elsewhere, someone tells Anna to treat her life as a gift, to rely on her abilities and to have faith in herself.
A handful of characters throughout the film truly care about Anna’s fate.
A man wears a cross necklace.
Several graphic sex scenes are depicted. In the first, Anna’s depressed face is shown, and we hear explicit noises as her boyfriend has sex with her. (He makes crude and degrading comments in the process.) Anna’s abusive boyfriend tells her that he saved her from having to “turn tricks for a bite to eat.”
Later, Anna has sex a few times with a Russian coworker and lover. Once in a closet (where we glimpse both of their bare thighs, see movements and hear sounds), and once in her apartment (clothes are removed, we see Anna in skimpy undergarments, though the camera departs before they have sex).
Anna has a relationship with a woman as well, someone she meets while the two are working for a modeling agency. They briefly talk about their sex lives. They share a bed, flirt and kiss. A man and two women are seen naked in bed (we don’t see any private parts) in a threesome.
Elsewhere, Anna sleeps with a CIA operative. That scene shows him in boxers, her topless and movements in bed. In the morning, she’s covered only by a sheet.
Anna uses her sex appeal to seduce men and then kill them. She kisses them, promises sex and is seen in lingerie. It’s implied that if Anna were to be imprisoned she’d be raped. Anna is seen in the shower, shoulders up.
A man graphically talks about sex while questioning a female suspect. A photographer asks a few models to push their breasts out. He wants to take “dirty” pictures and tells them he wants them to look more like princesses and “not transvestites.” We hear that a corrupt businessman purchases women for sex when he travels. A man kisses and flirts with a woman while his girlfriend sits in the backseat of the car.
At one point, Anna lives with an abusive boyfriend. It’s implied that he hits her (he nearly punches her), verbally abuses and degrades her. Feeling hopeless, Anna slits her wrist. Blood drains from her wrist and forms a puddle on the ground, but she eventually chooses to stop the bleeding and survives.
When offered a different life, Anna jumps at the opportunity and begins her training as an assassin for the KGB. Violence (that typically leads to death) is her only means of survival. Men are often shot in the head point-blank, in the chest, neck and other body parts. Blood flies and splatters in all directions. In one particularly gruesome scene Anna realizes her gun isn’t loaded, so she uses a broken plate, a fork and other sharp objects to stab, mutilate and kill a plethora of men. Many similar, graphic scenes follow. Several of them show Anna seducing men and then killing them.
Nine Americans are held captive in Russia. Each is killed in different ways. One of the Americans, a woman, is beheaded, and her head is mailed in a box (which we see) to the United States.
A group of ruffians beat up an elderly man until he’s bloodied and bruised, shove him in a car trunk and release him to use his ATM code. When he refuses, the men punch him repeatedly in the face. As the police arrive, a shoot-out occurs, and a few people are killed.
One of Anna’s female bosses tells her that she has a limp from a previous accident where her foot was caught in a wolf trap. She was given a screw driver and told to fix the problem herself.
A woman is choked, shot and fakes her own death. A woman’s face gets smashed into the arm rest of a car, and she’s later pushed out of a vehicle. Anna hits a photographer with his own camera in the face until he bleeds.
A man’s finger is cut off while he’s still alive (we hear screaming), and his bloodied finger is placed in a bag. Gruesome death threats are often heard. A flashback shows a young girl’s parents die in a car crash. A couple flees from the police, and multiple cars are totaled.
Jesus name is misused once. The f-word is uttered nearly 40 times. The s-word is used 10 times. Other profanities include a few uses of “h—,” “b–ch,” “a–” and “d–n.” The British vulgarity “bloody” is heard once, as is the phrase “p-ssed off.”
A boyfriend of Anna’s asks for alcohol and more marijuana (on top of what has previously been smoked). He also shames Anna when she tries to apply for the Navy, telling her she’ll never pass the drug test.
Anna is a recovering drug addict; we hear about her former addiction, as well as the fact that she’s been sober for a year. A few people degradingly call her a “junkie,” though she’s not.
A man tries to poison himself. Men and women alike smoke cigarettes, consume hard liquor, wine and champagne. A couple talks about consuming mixed drinks.
Anna is a KGB operative, works undercover for other organizations and is a professional liar. In fact, all those whom she works with are also professional liars with skewed moral compasses. A man admits to illegally smuggling weapons into various countries.
French director Luc Besson has been waiting to release Anna, after a one year hold due to nine allegations against him, ranging from sexual harassment to rape.
And that’s pretty ironic, given that this entire film is based on a woman forced into a life of violence to escape from a life of violence. It’s uncertain whether Besson will be convicted or not.
But what is certain is that this action thriller is filled with graphic content, through and through. Extreme violence, explicit sexual scenes and profanity mar the screen—making much of this brutal story difficult to digest.
Anna’s character is someone we can empathize with, a desperate woman whose choices are terribly limited. As for the movie bearing her name, however, well that’s another story.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, loving raising their little guy, Judah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).