Published on August 3rd, 2014 | by Tim Cooper
Lucy – Film Review
Reviewed by Tim Cooper on July 28, 2014
Universal Pictures presents a film by Luc Besson
Produced by: Marc Shmuger and Virginie Silla
Written by Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman and Min-sik Choi
Music by: Eric Sera
Cinematography: Thierry Arbogast
Running Time: 90 minutes
Release Date: 31st July
Luc Besson is a director whose work has always divided opinions in cinemagoers. Some say his style is trashy and too over the top but others say the French director is a vibrant one of a kind artist. His latest film starring the ever popular Scarlett Johansson is a science fiction tinged action film that is proving to be equally divisive in audience opinion. While in Korea, Lucy (Johansson) is betrayed by her party boy man friend and put up to a drug deal. When the deal goes bad she is confronted by mob boss Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi from Oldboy 2003). In the top levels of Jang’s skyscraper high above the city, Lucy is knocked out cold only to be awoken and informed that four packets of a new experimental drug have been placed inside her stomach. Now Lucy and several other unlucky tourists must act as international drug mules to transport the drugs for Mr. Jang’s cartel. What these unlucky and unfortunate victims don’t realise is that the drug they are carrying inside of them is called CPH4; a concentrated compound of the chemical released from mothers to their baby fetus for it to grow exponentially. Upon release into the world Lucy is captured and beaten by thugs only for one of the bags to break inside of her. Dissolving into her blood stream it begins to evolve Lucy as she gains control over the previously unusable percentage of the human brain. With humans only ever using ten percent of our brains capacity, Lucy is about to find out the evolutionary result of accessing the remaining ninety percent of our cerebral function.
Sounds a bit stupid right? Sure. It is. It is science fiction not science fact. You want serious go watch a documentary. Let’s get this out of the way right now. Lucy is a ridiculous concept, but that’s not where the problems lie with this film. The story for Lucy is quite a fun concept and the film could have really been a thoroughly enjoyable experience; unfortunately it is too fragmented in style and severely lacking in any real conflict of character for our main protagonist to be more than the sum of its parts. Upon Lucy’s first mind expansion she becomes a cold butt kicking killer with little remorse for her actions. Lucy isn’t the most likeable person to begin with so this approach leaves her character at a distance for real audience empathy and emotional interaction.
Lucy is thrust upon the world in a violent mind expanding journey as she tries to locate the other mules and put a stop to Mr. Jang’s criminal operation. Narrating Lucy’s evolution from his lectern is Professor Norman (played by Morgan Freeman in typical phone-it-in fashion). Norman talks in hypothesis to an audience of undetermined braniacs about the potential of an evolved human brain operating at one hundred percent capacity. Besson includes visual cutaways of animal behavior (and cavemen, yep that’s right, cavemen) in documentary style footage in an effort to link the film’s characters to an evolutionary narrative, it is also the pattern in which most of the film is played out. The idea of linking these styles together adds colour to the film but is mostly distracting and at times laughable. The first half of Lucy’s evolution is also held back by repetition of similar monologues of externalised thought she seems hell bent on delivering to whoever is nearby. The audience can see her abilities change and evolve yet Besson seems to want to remind us what is happening to her, a lot.
The colourful mess that is this film will put many off and rightly so. For those that don’t mind a bit of buoyancy and over the top fun though, Lucy will actually provide you with a good ride. Despite Lucy’s downfalls there is a lot of fun to be had if you can check your head at the door. Besson isn’t really trying to make the evolutionary statement that many people think he is. The director is simply using science fiction as a backdrop for us to have a good time, just like he did in The Fifth Element. There are signature moments for those familiar with his previous work including car chases, outnumbered shoot outs and off the wall humour. This will please some long term fans but those who prefer only Besson’s earlier work (Nikitta, Leon) will probably not enjoy Lucy.
Lucy is a messy but enjoyable film; lagging in pace at the beginning then sprinting to the finish line to set off a barrel of gunpowder amidst the semi-serious cerebral hyperbole. Besson’s latest is science fun rather than science fiction and with this in mind it’s worth a watch for the purpose of light entertainment.
Summary: Besson’s latest is science fun rather than science fiction and with this in mind it’s worth a watch for the purpose of light entertainment.