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Top 10 Luc Besson Movies

Out of excitement for the international release of Luc Besson’s sparkling new sci-fi adventure, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, we here at Screen Mayhem, thought it would be fun to say a few words about our top ten best Besson. Here you will find super-strong women, spectacular seascapes, magnificent visions of the future and action galore. Enjoy.

10. ‘The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc’ (1999)

Ripped pretty hard by the critics; I think The Messenger is seriously underrated. Packed with beautiful imagery and deft action, it glides you through the life of a young and gorgeous Joan of Arc. Panned at the time because people couldn’t accept Milla Jovovich as a leading action star, I think she has proven herself against time.

By Matthew Whitaker

9. ‘Angel-A’ (2005)

One of Besson’s lesser known works, Angel-A stars Jamel Debouzze as Andre, a man being hounded by impatient loan sharks on the streets of Paris. Fortunately for him a six foot blond angel in a mini-skirt comes to his aid. She uses her obvious charms to help him pay off his debts and even teaches him to love himself. Angela, played by Rie Rasmussen, provides a perfect example of Besson’s love of strong and sexy women, indeed, with her God given superpowers she could be taken as a precursor to his more recent, not to be trifled with heroine, Lucy. Filmed in crisp black and white, Angel-A is among Besson’s most understated, romantic and visually poetic movies.          

By Steven Saunders.

8. ‘Subway’ (1985)

If you know me, then you know I LOOOOOVE Christoper Lambert. I have a Highlander boner the size of Florida. Well, this was the movie that introduced me to a very blonde, young Conner McLeod. It is a wacky underground world of punky French vagrants, a laughable plot, a very hot Isabelle Adjani, and some great 80’s music fueling some pretty decent chase scenes.

The Drummer: Well, your Cinderella’s got a pistol this big in her bag.
Fred: It’s her magic wand.

By Matthew Whitaker

7. ‘Lucy’ (2014) 

Lucy was a major commercial success for Besson and tells the bizarre story of a good time girl forced into becoming a drug mule, who then turns into an all powerful super-genius, able to access the full capacity of her brain. The film marries Besson’s love of loopy science-fiction and gloriously stylish action, while finding time to comment on the essentially primitive nature of man. If this all sounds like absolute codswallop then never fear, for the ever trustworthy Morgan Freeman is on hand to sooth away any qualms you may have. He plays a lecturer and spends the entire movie explaining every piece of pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo that’s thrown at the screen. His gifts have rarely been put to better use. Scarlett Johansson is totally convincing as the next stage in human evolution.

By Steven Saunders

6. ‘Atlantis’ (1991)

Filmed over two years, Atlantis could be seen as both an underwater documentary and a ballet. Set to a suite of music composed by Eric Serra, Besson shows the creatures of the deep mingled together, diving and playing to soft rock music, slowly circling to opera, and even mating to the kind of smooth, sensuous music that might just do the job on Valentine’s Day. If you’re after the kind of fascinating facts provided by Nature Channel documentaries, then Atlantis might not be for you. This is a film designed to fill you with wonder, giving the spiritual, not the actual truth of the underwater world, as Besson sees it. The photography is to be marvelled at from start to finish, and Serra’s music is as swoony as one always expects. Placed together in such perfect synergy, Atlantis eloquently conveys the alien mystery and magic of the life aquatic.

By Steven Saunders

5. ‘The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec’ (2007)

As previously mentioned, Besson is a director notable for creating strong, action ready lead female characters, but of these, Adele Blanc-Sec is undoubtedly the most feisty and fun. The movie feels like a cross between Indiana Jones and The Mummy, but set in Paris, with a great looking French lady providing the thrills and the spills. Her catchphrase is “Into my arms!” and I’m not sure many men would have a problem with that. She bucks authority, she brings the dead back to life, she even rides a pterodactyl, for goodness sake. Set in 1911, the movie is full is exquisite, artistically accentuated period detail, and some amusingly grotesque character makeup. Tremendous fun.

By Steven Saunders

4. ‘The Fifth Element’ (1997)

The auto-wash, multi-pass, kick-ass hot alien love story that started them all. The Fifth Element is a beautiful mix of sci-fi, action, quirky characters. It includes: Flying cars!, Bruce Willis when he gave a shit, the insanely gorgeous Milla Jovovich, a delightfully odd Gary Oldman, and a number of the best action sequences of any of Besson’s films. Cosplayed to hell and back, this one goes down in history.

By Matthew Whitaker

3. ‘La Femme Nikita’ (1990)

The assassin movie that launched a million tropes. The story of a criminal sentenced to life, and given a second chance; as long as she promises to murder people for the government. Nikita (Played by Anne Parillaud) is cute, quirky, and a little punk rock. All she wanted was a little romance! Those dickheads just kept putting her to work. Expertly directed action, the birth of Leon (see below), an excess of bullets, and there is a great cameo by the wonderful Jeanne Moreau. What else can you ask for?

By Matthew Whitaker

2. ‘The Big Blue (Director’s Cut)’ (1988)

The Big Blue stars Jean-Marc Barr and Besson favourite, Jean Reno, as Jacques and Enzo, two free divers who challenge each other beyond safety and indeed sanity to dive to deeper and deeper depths. This is undoubtedly Besson’s visually most beautiful film, and is the apotheosis of his Cinema du Look ethos. The seascapes twinkle, the dolphins shimmer as they play, and the underwater world is like a mysterious playground; it’s not hard to understand why the two main characters find it difficult to choose between life in and out of the water. And yet, The Big Blue is so much more than that. It has friendship, a compelling rivalry, and a charming romance between the naive Jacques and Johana, played by Rosanna Arquette. All set to the hypnotically dreamy music of Eric Serra. This is the kind of movie that you can sink slowly into and float happily away. A masterpiece.

By Steven Saunders

1. ‘Leon: The Professional’ (1994)

Ok, you all knew this was coming. THE finest assassin movie ever made. Leon is cool, funny, lovable, and a fricken badass. Matilda is tough, smart, driven, and ultimately capable. It was a beautiful movie about the darkness in those we trust, and the generosity in bad people. Gary Oldman was at the top of his game (Dracula, Romeo is bleeding, True Romance), Jean Reno was mostly unknown (see above), and Natalie was brand new – the trio led a chemical reaction of epic proportions. Bullets fly. People die. Stuff blows up. And it is just fucking thrilling!

By Matthew Whitaker