The controversial Cillian Murphy spy thriller storming Netflix
(Credit: Netflix)

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The controversial Cillian Murphy spy thriller storming Netflix

For anyone who cares about the systematic abuse women experience, it will be hard to watch the recent hit spy thriller storming Netflix. In 2019, Luc Besson stood accused of rape and assault by at least nine women. In the same year, he made a film that revolves around a woman breaking free from a lifetime of male manipulation and abuse by being a deadly spy who gets by as a honeypot. 

Anna has recently surged to fourth place on Netflix’s top ten films globally. In just one week, it has amassed a staggering 11.7million hours viewed and garnered 5.9million individual views. The film stars Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy, in addition to Sasha Luss, who is our titular Anna. Plus, we have hefty performers like Helen Mirren at the fore as well.

The film follows Anna, a young Russian woman who becomes embroiled in the dangerous world of espionage. From being a domestic abuse survivor to becoming a trained KGB agent and then a CIA asset, Anna must use her cunning, strength, and, of course, her stunning good looks to survive while staying one step ahead of her enemies.

Despite Besson’s familiar tropes and stylised action sequences, Anna doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The Fifth Element and La Femme Nikita filmmaker has been telling essentially the same stories for decades with minor upgrades in sensibility. However, the film’s lead, Luss, has received praise for her portrayal of Anna, particularly for her adeptness in handling action choreography.

Meanwhile, Cillian Murphy, who has been making waves in Hollywood lately, played a small but pivotal role in Anna. His character, Agent Leonard Miller, is Anna’s CIA handler in the Besson film, and it is objectively one of his more unmemorable roles. When The Guardian quizzed him about his participation in the Besson film despite the director’s #MeToo accusations, Murphy said he had no clue about Besson’s behaviour. 

“The first I heard of it was a year after we had finished,” Murphy said before adding, “You go into a project with all the best intentions, and then that stuff comes out, and you’re shocked and saddened, and you just have to let it play out and be fully supportive of women and anyone who is in that situation.”

Belgian-Dutch actor Sand Van Roy had brought formal charges against the director. The actor who appeared in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets had accused him of rape. But later, Besson was cleared of all charges due to lack of enough evidence. Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction was overturned this week as well due to technical reasons, a move that has been heavily criticised by many.

Following Murphy’s Oscar win at the 2024 Academy Awards, he will be next seen in the film adaptation of Mark A. Bradley’s bestselling book Blood Runs Coal. Additionally, fans of the hit series Peaky Blinders can rejoice as Murphy is confirmed to reprise his iconic role as Tommy Shelby in the upcoming film adaptation. Series creator Steven Knight told BirminghamWorld, “He [Cillian Murphy] definitely is returning for it.” He also confirmed that shooting will begin “in September just down the road in Digbeth”.

You can watch Anna on Netflix or tune into the n-number of action films available to stream on the platform. For more recommendations, check out our list of women-led action films