Luc Besson is a French film director, screenwriter, and producer known for his stylish and visually stunning movies.
He is often associated with the action and thriller genres, and has created some of the most iconic films of the past few decades.
Here are some of the best Luc Besson films:
Leon: The Professional (1994): This film is considered a classic of the genre, and features a young Natalie Portman in her breakthrough role.
It tells the story of a hitman (played by Jean Reno) who takes a young girl (Portman) under his wing after her family is murdered.
La Femme Nikita (1990): This film tells the story of a young woman who is transformed from a criminal into a highly skilled assassin by a secret government agency.
It features stylish action sequences and a strong central performance by Anne Parillaud.
The Fifth Element (1997): This sci-fi action film stars Bruce Willis as a taxi driver who becomes embroiled in a battle to save the world from an otherworldly threat. It is known for its colorful and imaginative visuals.
Lucy (2014): Scarlett Johansson stars in this action-thriller about a woman who gains superhuman abilities after a drug is accidentally implanted in her body.
The film features stunning visual effects and a high-energy performance by Johansson.
Subway (1985): This early film from Besson tells the story of a young thief who takes refuge in the Paris metro and becomes embroiled in the underground world of subway dwellers.
It features stylish cinematography and a memorable soundtrack by composer Eric Serra.
Best Luc Besson Movies
These films represent the best works from Luc Besson’s illustrious career, and each one showcases his unique visual style and storytelling abilities.
1. The Last Battle (1983)
“The Last Battle” is a novel by C.S. Lewis, part of “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. However, there was also a film released in 1983 called “The Last Battle,” which was based on the novel.
The film was directed by Harald Reinl and starred Karin Heske, Kristina Nel, and Daniel Martin.
The film is set in the fictional land of Narnia, which is under threat from the evil Calormenes, who are invading the country.
The plot revolves around a group of animals and humans who band together to fight against the Calormenes and their dark god, Tash.
While the film has some fans, it received mixed reviews upon release and is generally not considered to be one of the stronger adaptations of Lewis’s work.
The special effects and production values are often criticized, and the film’s pacing can be slow at times. Nevertheless, for fans of “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, it may be worth watching to see a different interpretation of Lewis’s story.
2. Léon: The Professional (1994)
“Léon: The Professional” is a 1994 action thriller film written and directed by Luc Besson. The film stars Jean Reno as Léon, a professional hitman, and Natalie Portman in her feature film debut as Mathilda, a young girl who becomes his protegee.
The film also features Gary Oldman in a memorable role as a corrupt DEA agent.
The film follows Léon as he takes in Mathilda after her family is killed by corrupt DEA agents.
As Léon teaches Mathilda the ropes of his profession, they develop a strong bond, and Mathilda becomes determined to avenge her family’s deaths.
The film is notable for its striking visuals, intense action sequences, and memorable performances from its cast.
It has become a cult classic and is widely considered to be one of Besson’s best films. The relationship between Léon and Mathilda is often cited as one of the film’s strongest points, and both Reno and Portman deliver powerful performances.
The film also features an iconic score by Eric Serra, which has become closely associated with the film. Overall, “Léon: The Professional” is a gripping and intense film that has had a lasting impact on action cinema.
3. Atlantis (I) (1991)
“Atlantis” (also known as “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”) is a 1991 science fiction film directed by Luc Besson.
The movie is a visually stunning adventure story that tells the tale of a young boy named Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox) who becomes involved in a quest to find the lost city of Atlantis.
The expedition is led by the eccentric millionaire Preston Whitmore (voiced by John Mahoney), who believes he has found the location of Atlantis.
The team, which includes the tough and beautiful mechanic Helga Sinclair (voiced by Claudia Christian), sets out on a perilous journey that takes them deep into the heart of the ocean.
Atlantis” is a visually stunning film that features a richly imagined world of underwater landscapes and incredible technology.
The story is an exciting adventure that is filled with action, humor, and heart. The voice cast, which also includes James Garner, Leonard Nimoy, and Don Novello, is top-notch, and the film’s score by composer Eric Serra is memorable.
Overall, “Atlantis” is a must-see for fans of science fiction and adventure films, and is a testament to Besson’s unique vision and storytelling abilities.
4. The Fifth Element (1997)
“The Fifth Element” is a 1997 science fiction action film directed by Luc Besson. The film is set in a colorful and visually stunning future world and stars Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and Gary Oldman.
The film follows the adventures of Korben Dallas (Willis), a former elite commando who is recruited to help protect the Earth from an impending attack by an ancient evil force known as the Great Evil.
Korben teams up with the enigmatic Leeloo (Jovovich), who is believed to be the “Fifth Element,” the only force capable of stopping the Great Evil.
Along the way, they encounter a variety of strange and colorful characters, including a flamboyant radio host (Chris Tucker) and an eccentric scientist (Ian Holm).
“The Fifth Element” is known for its stunning visuals and fast-paced action. The film’s world-building is intricate and imaginative, with an attention to detail that rewards repeated viewings.
The performances of the cast are also noteworthy, with Willis delivering a memorable turn as the gruff but heroic Korben and Jovovich bringing a sense of otherworldly innocence to her role as Leeloo.
The film’s quirky humor, striking visuals, and unique characters have made it a cult classic and a favorite among science fiction fans. It has also become one of Besson’s most well-known and beloved films.
5. Nikita (1990)
“La Femme Nikita” is a 1990 French action-thriller film directed by Luc Besson. The film stars Anne Parillaud as Nikita, a young criminal who is given a second chance by a secret government agency after a botched robbery leaves her in custody.
The agency trains her to become a skilled assassin, and she is sent on various missions around the world.
The film is known for its stylish visuals, intense action sequences, and strong performances. Parillaud delivers a powerful performance as Nikita, portraying her character’s transformation from a reckless criminal to a deadly assassin with nuance and depth.
The film’s supporting cast, including Tchéky Karyo as Nikita’s mentor and Jean-Hugues Anglade as her love interest, also deliver strong performances.
“La Femme Nikita” has had a significant impact on action cinema and has been credited with popularizing the “female assassin” subgenre.
The film has been remade multiple times, including as an American adaptation called “Point of No Return” in 1993 and as a television series that ran from 2010 to 2013. However, Besson’s original film remains a classic and a favorite among fans of action cinema.
6. The Big Blue (1988)
“The Big Blue” (original title: “Le Grand Bleu”) is a 1988 French drama film directed by Luc Besson.
The movie tells the story of two free divers, Enzo Molinari (played by Jean-Marc Barr) and Jacques Mayol (played by Jean Reno), who have a competitive and complex relationship as they both attempt to break world records for diving without the use of oxygen tanks.
Enzo and Jacques have been friends since childhood, growing up together in Greece, where they first discovered their love of the ocean and the freedom of diving.
The film follows their journeys as they travel the world, breaking records and pushing each other to new limits.
Their relationship is further complicated when they both fall in love with Johana (played by Rosanna Arquette), a beautiful and independent woman who shares their passion for diving.
As they compete against each other, Enzo and Jacques must also navigate their own personal demons and find a balance between their passion and their relationships.
“The Big Blue” is a visually stunning film that features breathtaking underwater photography and a haunting soundtrack by composer Eric Serra.
The film explores themes of love, friendship, competition, and the human connection to the ocean.
The performances by the three leads are powerful and nuanced, and the film’s emotional impact is undeniable. “The Big Blue” is a masterpiece of cinema and a testament to Besson’s skill as a director and
7. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is a science fiction action film directed by Luc Besson and released in 2017.
The movie is based on the French comic book series “Valérian and Laureline” by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières.
The film follows Valerian (played by Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (played by Cara Delevingne), two special operatives for the government of Alpha, a vast space station that serves as a home for a thousand different alien species.
Valerian and Laureline are tasked with investigating a mysterious threat to the station, which leads them on a dangerous mission to uncover a conspiracy that threatens not only Alpha but the entire universe.
The movie received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, with some praising its visual effects and ambitious scope while others criticized its uneven pacing and thin plot.
Despite this, it was praised for its stunning visuals and the diverse range of alien species depicted. The movie was also noted for its use of motion capture technology to create the film’s many intricate and imaginative alien creatures.
8. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)
“The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec” is a 2010 French adventure comedy film directed by Luc Besson.
The film is based on a popular French comic book series by Jacques Tardi and stars Louise Bourgoin as the eponymous Adèle Blanc-Sec, a plucky and adventurous journalist in early 20th century Paris.
The film follows Adèle as she investigates a mysterious cult, travels to Egypt to find a cure for her comatose sister, and deals with a variety of eccentric and dangerous characters along the way.
The film blends action, comedy, and fantasy elements, and is known for its quirky humor and imaginative visuals.
Bourgoin delivers a charming performance as Adèle, portraying her character’s confidence, wit, and sense of adventure with relish.
The supporting cast is also noteworthy, with Mathieu Amalric as a villainous professor and Gilles Lellouche as a bumbling police inspector.
While the film was not a commercial success upon release, it has developed a cult following and is often cited as an underrated gem.
Its blend of humor, action, and fantasy elements, as well as its imaginative world-building and strong lead performance, make it an enjoyable and memorable film for fans of adventure cinema.9. Subway (1985)
“Subway” is a 1985 French thriller film directed by Luc Besson. The movie follows the story of Fred (played by Christopher Lambert), a small-time thief who finds himself on the run from the police after stealing some documents from a wealthy businessman.
He takes refuge in the Paris Metro system, where he meets a colorful cast of characters, including a beautiful and mysterious woman named Helena (played by Isabelle Adjani), who is involved with the businessman Fred has robbed.
As Fred hides out in the subway, he becomes involved in a complex web of relationships and intrigue. He must navigate the dangerous underworld of the Metro, avoiding the police and a group of violent criminals who are also after him.
Along the way, he falls in love with Helena, but discovers that she has her own secrets and agenda.
“Subway” is a stylish and visually stunning film that showcases Besson’s signature blend of action, humor, and romance. The film features a memorable soundtrack by composer Eric Serra, who would go on to work with Besson on many of his later films.
The performances by the cast are excellent, particularly Lambert and Adjani, who have great chemistry on screen.
The film also includes some inventive and memorable sequences, such as a subway car transformed into a nightclub and a wild chase scene through the Metro tunnels.
Overall, “Subway” is a classic of French cinema and a standout in Besson’s filmography. It is a must-see for fans of action and thriller films, as well as anyone interested in the unique atmosphere of the Paris Metro system.
9. The Lady (2011)
“The Lady” is a biographical drama film directed by Luc Besson, released in 2011. The movie follows the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and democracy activist, who became a symbol of Myanmar’s struggle for democracy.
The film stars Michelle Yeoh as Aung San Suu Kyi and David Thewlis as her husband Michael Aris.
The movie depicts Aung San Suu Kyi’s political awakening and her decision to return to Myanmar to help her country, despite the risks to her own safety and the well-being of her family.
“The Lady” was generally well-received by critics, who praised Michelle Yeoh’s performance and the film’s direction.
The movie was also noted for shedding light on the political situation in Myanmar and raising awareness about the plight of its people.
However, some criticized the film for oversimplifying the complex political issues at play in the country and for not delving deeper into Aung San Suu Kyi’s personal life.
10. Angel-A (2005)
“Angel-A” is a 2005 French romantic fantasy film written and directed by Luc Besson. The film stars Rie Rasmussen as Angel-A, an enigmatic and beautiful woman who intervenes in the life of André (Jamel Debbouze), a hapless and down-on-his-luck scam artist in Paris.
The film follows André as he struggles to pay off his debts and deal with his various personal problems. However, his life changes when he meets Angel-A, who reveals herself to be his guardian angel.
Through a series of surreal and fantastical encounters, Angel-A helps André to see the good in himself and to make positive changes in his life.
The film is notable for its stunning black-and-white cinematography and its blend of humor, romance, and fantasy elements.
Rasmussen delivers a powerful and mysterious performance as Angel-A, while Debbouze brings a relatable charm to his portrayal of André.
The film’s surreal and dreamlike visuals create a unique and memorable atmosphere, while its themes of redemption and self-acceptance give it a heartwarming and uplifting quality.
“Angel-A” received mixed reviews upon release, but has since become a cult classic and a favorite among fans of romantic fantasy films.
Its blend of humor, romance, and fantasy elements, as well as its stunning visuals and strong lead performances, make it a unique and enjoyable film.
11. Lucy (I) (2014)
“Lucy” is a 2014 science fiction action film directed by Luc Besson.
The movie stars Scarlett Johansson as the titular character, a young woman who gains superhuman abilities after accidentally ingesting a drug that allows her to use 100% of her brain capacity.
The film follows Lucy’s journey as she begins to explore the full potential of her enhanced mental and physical capabilities.
With the help of a renowned neurologist, Professor Norman (played by Morgan Freeman), Lucy learns to control her new abilities and sets out to seek revenge against those who put her in danger.
As Lucy’s powers grow, she becomes increasingly detached from her humanity and begins to transcend physical reality itself.
Her quest for knowledge and power takes her on a journey that spans continents and time itself.
“Lucy” is a visually stunning film that showcases Besson’s trademark action and suspense. The movie features spectacular special effects and intense action sequences, as well as a thought-provoking exploration of the human brain and its potential.
Scarlett Johansson delivers a standout performance as Lucy, embodying the character’s transformation from vulnerable victim to unstoppable force of nature.
The film’s themes of evolution, knowledge, and power make it a unique entry in the science fiction genre, and Besson’s direction brings a distinct vision to the story.
Overall, “Lucy” is a must-see for fans of action and science fiction films, as well as anyone interested in exploring the limits of human potential.
12. The Family (I) (2013)
“The Family” is a black comedy crime film directed by Luc Besson, released in 2013.
The movie follows a mafia family who are relocated to a small town in France as part of the witness protection program, and their struggles to adapt to their new environment.
The film stars Robert De Niro as Giovanni Manzoni, a former mob boss who testifies against his former associates and is relocated with his family to Normandy, France.
Michelle Pfeiffer plays his wife Maggie, and Dianna Agron and John D’Leo play their teenage children Belle and Warren.
While attempting to fit into their new community, the family struggles to keep their violent past a secret, and their behavior soon attracts unwanted attention from their neighbors and the local authorities.
“The Family” received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising the performances of the cast and the film’s dark humor, while others criticized the movie for its uneven tone and lack of originality.
The movie was noted for its exploration of the themes of identity and the difficulties of adjusting to a new environment, as well as its portrayal of the effects of violence and criminal activity on families. Despite mixed reviews, the film performed moderately well at the box office.
13. Arthur and the Invisibles (2006)
“Arthur and the Invisibles” is a 2006 French-American computer-animated adventure film directed by Luc Besson.
The film is based on a series of children’s books written by Besson and follows the adventures of a young boy named Arthur, voiced by Freddie Highmore, as he embarks on a quest to find a treasure hidden in the land of the Minimoys, a race of tiny beings who live underground.
The film features a star-studded cast of voice actors, including Mia Farrow, David Bowie, and Snoop Dogg. It blends live-action and animation sequences and is notable for its imaginative and colorful visuals.
The film also has a strong environmental message, highlighting the importance of preserving nature and protecting the environment.
While the film received mixed reviews upon release, it was a commercial success and spawned two sequels.
Its blend of adventure, fantasy, and environmental themes, as well as its colorful visuals and charming lead performances, make it an enjoyable and family-friendly film.
The film is particularly well-suited for children, who are sure to be captivated by the imaginative world of the Minimoys and the exciting adventures of the young hero Arthur.
14. Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard (2009)
“Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard” (original title: “Arthur et la vengeance de Maltazard”) is a 2009 French animated adventure film directed by Luc Besson.
It is the second installment in the “Arthur and the Invisibles” trilogy, based on the children’s book series of the same name by Besson.
The movie follows the story of Arthur (voiced by Freddie Highmore), a young boy who enters the world of the Minimoys, a race of tiny creatures who live in his garden.
He must help his friends Princess Selenia (voiced by Selena Gomez) and her brother Prince Betameche (voiced by Jimmy Fallon) save their kingdom from the evil Maltazard (voiced by Lou Reed), a once-friendly Minimoy who has become a ruthless tyrant.
As Arthur and his friends journey through the dangerous world of the Minimoys, they face a series of challenges and obstacles, including a fierce battle with Maltazard’s army of insect soldiers.
Along the way, they discover the power of friendship and the importance of fighting for what is right.
“Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard” is a visually stunning film that features a unique blend of live-action and animation.
The movie’s themes of courage and perseverance make it a great choice for children and families, and the voice performances by the cast are excellent.
The film also features an upbeat soundtrack and memorable characters, including the hilarious and quirky Betameche.
Overall, “Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard” is a fun and exciting adventure that showcases Besson’s skill as a director and storyteller.
It is a great choice for fans of fantasy and adventure films, as well as anyone looking for a heartwarming tale of friendship and bravery.
15. Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds (2010)
“Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds” is an animated fantasy adventure film directed by Luc Besson, released in 2010.
The movie is based on the children’s book series “Arthur and the Minimoys” by Luc Besson.
The film follows the adventures of a young boy named Arthur, who travels to the land of the Minimoys, a tiny people who live in his grandmother’s backyard.
In this final installment of the trilogy, Arthur must fight against the evil Maltazard, who has grown to human size and is threatening to take over the entire world.
With the help of his friends and family, Arthur sets out to stop Maltazard and save both the Minimoys and the human world from destruction.
“Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds” received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising the film’s animation and imaginative world-building, while others criticized the movie for its weak plot and lack of character development.
The movie was noted for its themes of family, friendship, and the importance of teamwork, as well as its entertaining action sequences and sense of adventure.
Despite mixed reviews, the film was a box office success in France and other European countries.
16. The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)
“The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” is a 1999 French epic historical drama film directed by Luc Besson.
The film tells the story of Joan of Arc, the legendary French warrior and martyr who played a crucial role in the Hundred Years’ War between France and England in the 15th century.
The film stars Milla Jovovich in the lead role, with John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, and Dustin Hoffman in supporting roles.
The film is known for its sweeping scale, elaborate battle scenes, and stunning visuals. Jovovich delivers a powerful and intense performance as Joan of Arc, capturing both the strength and vulnerability of the iconic historical figure.
The supporting cast is also noteworthy, with Malkovich in particular delivering a memorable and nuanced portrayal of King Charles VII of France.
While the film received mixed reviews upon release, it has since gained a cult following and is often cited as an underrated gem.
Its blend of historical drama, action, and fantasy elements, as well as its strong lead performance and impressive production design, make it an engaging and memorable film for fans of epic historical dramas.
The film also offers an intriguing and complex portrayal of Joan of Arc, exploring her faith, her motivations, and her tragic fate.
3 Characteristics of Luc Besson Films
Luc Besson’s films are known for their distinct style and themes. Here are three common characteristics of his films:
Action and Thrills: Many of Besson’s films are action-packed and filled with thrilling sequences. From car chases to shootouts, Besson’s films are known for their high-energy set pieces and suspenseful moments.
Strong Female Characters: Besson is known for creating strong and capable female characters in his films. From “La Femme Nikita” to “Lucy,” Besson’s female protagonists are often central to the plot and take charge of their own destinies.
Visually Stunning: Besson’s films are often visually stunning, with vibrant colors and intricate set designs.
He often uses imaginative and otherworldly elements in his films, creating fantastical worlds that are both captivating and visually impressive.
Overall, Luc Besson’s films often feature a unique blend of action, fantasy, and drama, with memorable characters and stunning visuals.
3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Luc Besson Films
Luc Besson is a French filmmaker who has made a significant impact on the world of cinema. Here are three reasons why you should watch his films:
Unique and Imaginative World-Building: One of the hallmarks of Besson’s films is his ability to create unique and imaginative worlds that are both visually stunning and thematically rich.
From the futuristic metropolis of “The Fifth Element” to the mystical realm of “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc,” Besson’s films often take viewers on a journey to places they have never seen before.
Strong Visual Style and Action Sequences: Besson is known for his strong visual style and dynamic action sequences.
Many of his films feature visually striking and memorable moments, such as the car chases in “The Transporter” or the fight scenes in “Leon: The Professional.” If you enjoy well-executed action sequences and cinematic spectacle, Besson’s films are definitely worth watching.
Diverse Range of Genres and Themes: Besson has worked across a diverse range of genres and themes, from sci-fi and action to drama and biographical films.
His films often touch on social and political issues, such as immigration, corruption, and the struggle for justice.
By exploring a wide range of subjects and themes, Besson’s films offer something for everyone and can provide new perspectives and insights into the human experience.
Best Luc Besson Films – Wrapping Up
Luc Besson is a talented filmmaker known for his unique style and imaginative storytelling.
Over the years, he has produced a wide range of films across different genres, from action thrillers to romantic fantasies to historical dramas. Some of his best films include:
“Léon: The Professional” (1994)
“La Femme Nikita” (1990)
“The Fifth Element” (1997)
“The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” (1999)
These films showcase Besson’s ability to create compelling and memorable characters, as well as his skill in crafting exciting and visually stunning action sequences.
They also demonstrate his willingness to take risks and explore unconventional themes and storytelling approaches.
While not all of Besson’s films have been critical successes, his best works have left a lasting impression on audiences and have contributed to the legacy of French cinema.
Whether you’re a fan of action, romance, or historical dramas, there is something to enjoy in Besson’s filmography.
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