“You need to be focused when you watch this film,” says Luc Besson, sat beside ShortList on the squidgy tan leather sofa in his Parisian edit suite. “You can’t make a film about intelligence for people to just sit there munching popcorn and not thinking. I want people to be alert.”
If you’ve seen the trailer for Besson’s forthcoming thriller Lucy, you’ll know why focus is essential. It’s fairly, erm, ‘out there’. During the afternoon we spent with the French director as he chopped, tweaked and cut a few scenes, we can report it’s a sort of cross between X-Men and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. And that’s a compliment, naturally.
The film tracks Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), a twentysomething student, from travelling party girl to drug mule to superhuman via the ingestion of a gut-full of strange Class A drugs, which exponentially enhance her brain capacity. Johansson was, chuckles Besson, “a pain in the ass; she wants to know everything! But, then, it’s a difficult part to play.” She apparently kept herself to herself during filming, which Besson admired: “She’s not very social. It’s almost a little rude, but it makes me happy because the film deserves to be concentrated on”.
Despite the crux of the plot coming from Besson’s talks with fellow members of the French ‘Institute Of The Brain’ (“You talk to these guys and have to take an aspirin afterwards”), the film’s more than esoteric psychological theory. While the director may not encourage popcorn-chomping, it’ll sit nicely alongside the spectacular shoot-outs, bloody action set pieces and an incredible car chase down the Place de la Concorde, interspersed with psychedelic trippiness inside Lucy’s head.
So, chomp away during the loud bangs and bright colours, but when the madcap brain concepts unfold, please, people, “be alert”.
Lucy is at cinemas from 22 August