At WonderCon 2014, Universal Pictures previewed select footage from Luc Besson’s Lucy. The Scarlett Johansson led action-flick sports a number of impressive action sequences, two of which premiered to the attentive audience of WonderCon. After the screening, Besson was on hand to discuss coming up with the premise of Lucy, the gender dynamics of his films and a funny story from his cult classic The Fifth Element. For a full recap of the footage shown and bullet point highlights from the Q&A, hit the jump.
If you’re not familiar with the premise of the film, I highly advise you watch the trailer here.
The two clips shown both heavily focused on the stellar action of the picture. In the first scene, Johansson escapes from the shackles of her imprisonment, blows away four men with guns, stops, notices she’s been shot in the shoulder, proceeds to dig the bullet out of her shoulder and then eats the food her captors were munching on. She then forces a cab driver to take her to a hospital. There she shoots a dying man being operated on and forces his doctors to operate on her and take out a leaking bag of drugs from her stomach. The pace is relentless in this sequence. Johansson sports a disaffected attitude through much of the action, somewhat similar to her performance as an alien in Under the Skin. In the second clip shown, much later in the film, Johansson speeds through traffic in Paris — much of the time on the wrong side of the road. I lost count of the number of cars totaled in the sequence. The whole time, cars whizzing by and crashing in front and behind, Johansson doesn’t even bat so much as an eyelash. It’s another strong scene (very clearly shot, no shaky camera, a lot of wides) –proof Besson’s still got ‘it’ after all these years.
Below is some bullet point highlights from the Q&A with Luc Besson:
- Luc Besson on coming up with the premise for Lucy: “The first thing [that interested me] was ‘the intelligence’. I was fascinated about that. It took me ten years. There was a theory in France that we only use ten percent of our brains – which I’ve found out is not true. But just that idea was fascinating to me. What would happen if you use more than that [ten percent] of your brain?”
- Besson on what makes his action scenes different: “I think if you have a normal action scene, it’s boring. For example in La Femme Nikita, there’s a scene where she kills someone in a restaurant and then she has to get out. But the thing that makes that scene great is that right before it’s her birthday party and she thinks that it’s going to be the greatest day of her life. Then she’s handed a gun and told to kill someone. So it’s the emotional stakes set up before that really makes the action scene [that follows] work.”
- Besson on his writing, producing and directing process: “Producing is easy. I just take good people and let them do what they want to do. Producing is the easy part. Directing is much more difficult.” On writing: “I started when I was thirteen – my first five hundred thousand words were shit. But now for the past ten years I’ve gotten better. My process is I wake up at four or five in the morning and write for two hours. And I do it pen to paper. I don’t use any computers.”
- Besson on the gender dynamics in his films: “I’m interested in opposites. We always portray the man as big and strong. ‘Hasta la Vista, Baby.’ The women is always in the background in distress. I’m interested in [flipping that].”
- Besson on The Fifth Element: I have a funny story for you. They did a sneak preview in Arizona. And I see all these guys coming [to the theater]. What you call — rednecks. And I watched the film with these guys and at some point in the movie the president [comes on screen]. It’s Tiny Lister Jr. — who’s black. That, I guess, hadn’t been done much before. The guy next to me [in the theater] stops eating his popcorn and looks up at the screen and says what the fuck [is going on] in this film?”
Lucy opens August 8th. Click here for more WonderCon coverage.