films seen
14
average score
3.35*
nationality
France - 61 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

Luc Besson did wonders for French commercial/genre cinema. His ability to mix pure genre elements and blockbuster aesthetics is quite unique and because he rarely works in the same genre, his oeuvre is as versatile as they come.

Rare treats

Angel-A

by Luc Besson
Specifics
France [2005] - 88m
Genre
Romance
More info on
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Angel-A poster

From the outside it may appear a little stuffy (French, black and white photography, jazzy music), but underneath that layer of arthouse polish lies an entertaining, smart and refreshing little film.

The Professional

by Luc Besson
Also known as
Leon
Specifics
France [1994] - 136m
Genre
Drama, Crime
More info on
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
The Professional poster

The film has aged surprisingly well. The action scenes are still amazing, Reno and Portman continue to impress and there's an edgy playfulness that keeps the film from becoming overly serious.

The good stuff

The Fifth Element

by Luc Besson
Specifics
France [1997] - 126m
Genre
Comedy, Sci-fi
More info on
rating
4.0*/5.0*
The Fifth Element poster

If only Besson had bet a little less on the special effects. Almost 20 years later they have lost much of their shine, leaving the film looking a bit cheaper than intended.

The Last Battle

by Luc Besson
Also known as
Le Dernier Combat
Specifics
France [1983] - 92m
Genre
Sci-fi
More info on
rating
4.0*/5.0*
The Last Battle poster

Solid pieces

Lucy

by Luc Besson
Specifics
France [2014] - 89m
Genre
Sci-fi, Action
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Lucy poster

It's been a while since Luc Besson made a truly great film (that would be Angel-A in 2005) and Lucy isn't the film to end Besson's brave quest for renewed excellence. But it is the best film he has made in a long time and it's not unlike Besson's own The Fifth Element: a colorful sci-fi flick that may look like a crowd-pleaser from afar, but delivers exactly the opposite.

Lucy isn't an easy film to explain as it constantly hides between ideas and pretences it doesn't really care about. In essence, it's just a crazy roller coaster that aims to amuse and to incite wonder. To accomplish that, Besson digs up an old (and popular) scientific misinterpretation and goes from there. He dresses up the original theory with layer upon layer of scientific half-truths and uses that increasingly silly premise to have a little sci-fi fun.

The premise that humans only use 10 to 15% of their brain has been dismantled years ago, but that's not important. The point is that it's the kind of premise that makes people gaze up into the sky, maybe take a sip of their whiskey and has them pondering out loud about what humanity could be capable of if we unlocked our brain's full potential. It's the kind of premise that, when brought up in a film, asks for a "meaningful philosophical exploration" of the subject, possibly assisted by some equally thoughtful quotes and existential meanderings.

But no, Besson runs with the premise, states that the extra brain power will allow us to control our own body, other people's bodies, all matter and finally time itself, feeds his main character a drug that miraculously unleashes her brain's true potential and spirals everything into a gleeful mix of high-octane action and outrageous sci-fi, including big and bold percentage statistics in between the various stages of evolution. That's a big bummer for people who were already stroking their chin in anticipation, but it's all the more fun for people like me who enjoy the grotesque and shameless direction this film takes.

The premise of the film has another interesting side effect. Since Lucy becomes super powerful mere minutes after she has taken the drugs, there really isn't anyone on this planet who can stop her. So even though there are a few nifty action sequences, there's never any real threat from the bad guys or any sense of urgency besides the fact that Lucy has a limited time to live. Again Besson crushes the expectations of the audience, working his way to an almost Akira-like finale.

The final blow is probably Johansson's performance. As the film progresses she quickly loses her (presumed - I'm not a fan) charm and becomes this blank-eyed, transcendent, super-rational entity. Instead of this charming, sexy, ultra-cool killer you're looking at an omniscient, omnipotent god-like creature who doesn't give a damn about who's after her, only interested in sharing the knowledge she's gaining before she burns up.

Sadly Besson misses the mark when things get truly frantic. The CG isn't really up to par and the aesthetic qualities of the sci-fi bits are a bit meagre. While the idea and direction of the film is amazing, the execution isn't on the same level. That's my only real complaint. Besides that Lucy is a hell of a ride, though you have to be prepared to follow Besson's path rather than get stuck in your own preconceptions of where Besson should've taken this material.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

by Luc Besson
Also known as
Les Aventures Extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec
Specifics
France, USA [2010] - 107m
Genre
Fantasy, Action, Adventure
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec poster

The inoffensive

Anna

by Luc Besson
Specifics
France, USA [2019] - 119m
Genre
Action, Thriller
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Anna poster

Call it an unofficial remake of Besson's own Nikita. While amusing in its own right, the film adds very little to the bottom line of the genre. A few well-executed action scenes make it worth your while, some predictable and contrived twists take away some of that fun. It's decent filler, but with Besson behind the camera you'd be excused for wanting a little extra.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

by Luc Besson
Specifics
France, China [2017] - 137m
Genre
Sci-fi, Fantasy, Action, Adventure
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets poster

The Family

by Luc Besson
Also known as
Malavita
Specifics
USA, France [2013] - 111m
Genre
Comedy, Thriller, Crime
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
The Family poster

The Lady

by Luc Besson
Specifics
France, UK [2011] - 132m
Genre
Drama, Biography
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
The Lady poster

Arthur and the Invisibles

by Luc Besson
Also known as
Arthur et les Minimoys
Specifics
France [2006] - 94m
Genre
Fantasy, Adventure, Animation
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Arthur and the Invisibles poster

Nikita

by Luc Besson
Also known as
La Femme Nikita
Specifics
France, Italy [1990] - 117m
Genre
Action, Thriller
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Nikita poster

Worthy but flawed

Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds

by Luc Besson
Also known as
Arthur et la Guerre des Deux Mondes
Specifics
France [2010] - 101m
Genre
Fantasy, Adventure, Animation
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds poster

Arthur and the Great Adventure

by Luc Besson
Also known as
Arthur et la Vengeance de Maltazard
Specifics
France [2009] - 107m
Genre
Fantasy, Adventure, Animation
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Arthur and the Great Adventure poster