Outcasts and Action – Luc Besson – Part 3
In 1998 he wrote and produced Taxi, this comedy action starring the now A-list French actress Marion Cotillard, filled the requirements for what many people want out of a visit to the cinema, something genuinely fun. This combination of continual humour laced with high-speed car chase scenes seemed to be an unstoppable formula as the taxi series has since had five more iterations. It’s an understatement to simply say that Taxi was a hit, especially in France where as far as the box office is concerned the Taxi films are the most successful French film franchise of all time, grossing over twenty million on their home turf alone (around a third of the entire population) and surmounting two hundred million worldwide.
During the early 2000’s Besson spent plenty of time away from the camera and instead took to producing several successful films. With many scripts he had written starting to take form, several other directors brought their own style to the table as they adapted what Besson had written. His sense of humour and clear concise visions of events that can be accelerated by action sequences constantly made it to the page and therefore to the screen despite who was wielding the lens.
His next big hit that he wrote and produced was The Transporter, taking British actor Jason Statham from a virtual unknown to a household name in zero to sixty. Once again, Besson lends his hand and infallible recipe to a movie hinged on a plot that features a gratuitous amount of action. Much like Taxi, this story of a delivery driver who is a no questions asked courier for shady organisations spawned several sequels and subsequently a TV series, Besson it seems has a magic touch when it comes to cars.
His production work continued into the 2010’s, Besson’s scripts or assistance as producer managed to help several titles reach great popularity, martial arts film Unleashed, and Guy Ritchie’s Revolver being just a couple. Along with his friend and collaborator Robert Mark Kamen, he developed the script for smash hit revenge thriller Taken. Here Liam Neeson plays a Father and security guard whose daughter is kidnapped, forcing him to compile his knowledge and skills into a deadly and precise hunt for the men behind her disappearance. The film not only forced its own sequels but is no doubt responsible for the surge in the revenge thriller genre.
2014 saw the release of Lucy, and with Besson directing again, had him comfortably in a position where he could do his best. Another sci-fi thriller, full of intense violence, shot beautifully and focused on a femme fatale, this time played by the popular Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson. And even more recently in a spiritual sequel to The Fifth Element, Besson finds another pair of odd characters to throw into another living breathing world of the future. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was adapted once more from comics and shows that Besson to this day puts a great deal of importance on visuals, as this film despite its flaws, is a marvel to look at. Luc Besson to this day is still faithful to the list he made as a young boy, and audiences everywhere are grateful.