Everything is Everything in ‘Lucy’

by Trevan McGee on July 25, 2014

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Minor Rock Fist Down]

Scarlett Johansson slips into action mode in Luc Besson‘s Lucy, an action/sci-fi speedball that asks and answers the question, “What happens when a human being accesses 100 percent of their brain?”

The journey to that answer ends up being one of Besson’s most metaphysical films, but this is the guy who gave us Leon: The Professional and La Femme Nikita, so it’s punctuated by plenty of explosions, death and a more-than-liberal approach to human physiology. It’s more of a comic-book movie than Tree Of Life, is what I’m saying.

Johansson plays the titular Lucy, an exchange student and party girl who finds herself in a pretty dangerous situation after her sketchball boyfriend asks her to deliver a case to Mr. Jang (played by Min-Sik Choi), a terrifying businessman/international drug kingpin. It would appear that she’s stumbled into a plan to smuggle a hot new drug into different parts of the world and before long she wakes up with a bag of the nefarious substance sewn into her lower tummy. 

But Lucy’s contraband isn’t your typical Heisenberg crystal-blue persuasion, it’s a super-drug. While traveling, Lucy is attacked and the bag breaks while it’s still inside her, causing an instant change that opens up her full brain capacity and gives her powers and abilities far beyond being able to balance a checkbook or remember where you parked after a day at the outlet mall.

Lucy is an incredibly silly movie that mostly takes itself seriously. Besson essentially crafts a new superhero here and uses the entire setup in the first third to explore humanity’s evolutionary capacity and fold in a sweet car chase for the hell of it.

It’s kinetic to the point of feeling rushed, uses Morgan Freeman to explain the plot whenever it even hints at becoming confusing and has a lot of fun giving its protagonist inexplicable powers.

But there are some interesting things about Lucy that elevate it from slightly more standard action fair. Johansson plays Lucy post her awakening as a robotic and methodical creature. She simultaneously loses touch with the things that make her human and manages to care and empower the human race at the same time.

The film’s first third features a ton of asynchronous editing that likens the events happening within the plot to nature documentaries and other parallel events, which gives Lucy an experimental feel. Besson even manages to subvert audiences expectations at a few points by not delivering on big showdowns and staying true to his protagonists abilities and motives.

That said, Lucy has still a lot wrong with it, chiefly that it’s kind of dumb. The movie plays fast and loose with its world rules, which makes it feel uneven and inconvenient. It’s been edited with a hatchet. The finale is a foregone conclusion.

It all adds up to a flawed, but sometimes interesting movie that’s probably better suited for the small screen on a lazy weekend.

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