Luc Besson’s return to full-tilt action filmmaking with “Lucy” revved up the crowd at the Universal presentation at WonderCon on Saturday.
Set for release Aug. 8, “Lucy,” written and directed by Besson, stars Scarlett Johansson as a drug mule who ingests some contraband and finds herself with enhanced abilities, apparently because the chemicals enable her to access more of her brain. (Johansson has been on a professional run lately, with turns in films including the Academy Award-winning “Her,” in which she gave voice to a sentient operating system; April’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Under the Skin”; and next month’s indie restaurant movie “Chef,” directed by Jon Favreau).
In Anaheim on Saturday, Besson screened two sequences from “Lucy,” the first of which showed Johansson’s character learning to exploit the powers she’s unlocked by taking advantage of more of her brain capacity. The second showed a crash-heavy car chase through the streets of Paris.
Although the reception of the footage was positive, one fan’s question — asking Besson to answer critics who said the filmmaker hadn’t released anything good recently — made for an awkward moment.
“I don’t know and I don’t care,” Besson said. “I do films for [the fans] and that’s it.”
He continued by saying, “People forget that when I did ‘Nikita’ and ‘The Big Blue,’ the critics were very bad. The films have become classics now, but at the time, they were criticized the same way.”
Besson also waved off a suggestion that he reunite with Johansson for a Marvel spinoff film centering on Johansson’s Marvel spy Black Widow.
“I’m scared of spiders,” Besson said.
He did reveal that he’s interested in opposites, which is why he has made so many action films with strong female heroes.
“We always present the man as the strongest guy and the woman in back crying that he’s gone,” Besson said. “I want to show the strongness of women and the weakness of men. If suddenly Terminator starts to cry and says he misses his mom, then I’d be interested.”
Besson’s cast has a diverse flavor — it also includes Morgan Freeman, “Oldboy” star Choi Min-Sik and Egyptian actor Amr Waked.
Although the film is about a woman accessing her own higher intelligence, Besson admitted that “Lucy” took him 10 years to write.
“I guess I’m not so intelligent,” he said.
– Patrick Kevin Day | @LATHeroComplex
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