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Luc Besson

Luc Besson: how to make an action movie

French film director Luc Besson shares his killer instinct when it comes to making action movies like ‘Nikita’, ‘Léon’ and the forthcoming ‘Lucy’


Luc Besson, the director of ‘Nikita’ and ‘Léon’, is a man who knows his way around an action film. The French director transformed European cinema with the futuristic sci-fi ‘The Fifth Element’, and his EuropaCorp studio is behind action hits ‘Taken’ and ‘The Transporter’. Besson’s new film ‘Lucy’ stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman who accidentally consumes a drug that opens up her mind’s telekinetic potential. We asked him for his rules to making the perfect action movie.

‘If the action doesn’t have a soul or a purpose, I’m not interested. If it’s pure action for its own sake, I enjoy it like a cheeseburger. You eat it, then you’re hungry. “Indiana Jones” is perfect: you have all the action with the giant boulder, then he’s betrayed, loses the idol to the villain, goes home and he’s a teacher. I’m not a pure action moviegoer.’

‘Scarlett Johansson’s character in “Lucy” is about vulnerability. Something extraordinary is going to happen to her, so I take the worst case scenario. She’s an American in Taiwan, 15,000 kilometres away from home; she doesn’t speak the language; she’s just an average woman. If you make a movie about a guy who wins a billion dollars on the lotto, and the guy is rich to start with, who cares?’

‘If you’re going to spend eight months with someone, you need to be sure about them. Do I like you? Do you like me? Are you interested in the movie? When Scarlett came in she asked a thousand questions.’

‘I usually start with a couple of key shots, then I build the rest. When I wrote the car chase in “Lucy”, I knew where it would happen: rue du Louvre in Paris, backwards, at noon! I went along there, took a look at the angles we could shoot, where the cars could go, and put it together that way.’

Lucy’ opens in UK cinemas on Aug 22.

Watch the ‘Lucy’ trailer

Read ‘Lucy’ review

  • 5 out of 5 stars

Michael Keaton makes the mother of all comebacks in this savagely funny, strangely sweet, sad and utterly brilliant New York-set comedy from Mexican writer-director Alejandro González Iñárritu.

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