Luc Besson's mafia story Malavita, which stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer as the heads of a mob family forced to relocate to France under a witness protection program, is set for release in fall 2013, and the director is wasting no time in setting his sights on a new project.
Lucy will be an action movie with a distinctly sci-fi premise, about a young woman who is forced to become a drug mule and inadvertently manages to absorb the drug she's carrying into her own system. Rather than landing her in the hospital, the drug gives her superhuman powers, including telekinesis, the elimination of all sensations of pain or discomfort, and the ability to absorb knowledge instantaneously.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Johansson is in final negotiations for the lead role in the film, which already has a worldwide distribution deal with Universal. No other parts have been cast yet, but securing Johansson for the title role would be an outstanding first step towards production.
Besson has a stellar reputation in the action genre and frequently has female characters, if not kicking butt center-stage, then at least in a pivotal supporting role. He directed a very young Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional (1994), where she played an apprentice to Jean Reno's titular assassin, and is perhaps best-known for directing the weird but very entertaining sci-fi The Fifth Element, in which Milla Jovovich played a human genetically engineered for perfection, capable of beating up an entire room full of rubber-faced aliens to the beat of an opera. His next project after that starred Jovovich again as the French folk heroine, soldier and martyr, Joan of Arc.
If Johansson gets confirmed for the role - and it's already almost a done deal - then this pairing sounds perfect. Johansson is currently filming Captain America: The Winter Soldier in a reprisal of her role as Natasha Romanoff from Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, and so is still very on track to do more action roles. With the number of films and potential side projects already on Marvel's agenda, and the fact that they're only planning to make two movies a year, it's unlikely that we'll be getting a Black Widow spin-off in the near future. Lucy might be the next best thing - or maybe even better.
If Johansson is cast then hopefully we'll get more plot details fairly soon, with more information on the nature of the drug and what happens to the plot after Lucy comes under its influence. Besson's film is based on a similar premise to Neil Burger's Limitless, so perhaps mysterious pills could become the new radioactive waste of the superpower origin story.
Lucy doesn't have a release date yet, but we'll keep you updated on any developments.