Directed by: Luc Beeson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked, and Choi Min-sik
Luc Besson is a man of interesting taste. He likes to include stylish action while also trying to make his different and interesting. Lucy follows this model perfectly. At its core it simply is a dumb action movie that attempts to be smart as well. It succeeds as a dumb action movie but completely fails to be anywhere smart. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is being claimed as the smartest movie of the summer, while it isn’t the smartest movie ever, but Lucy makes it look like Citizen Kane. Now I like the concept of someone getting incredible powers from an experimental drug but including the plot line of the capacity of the brain and what we could do with access to your entire brain.
After agreeing to bringing a mysterious package to a crime load, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is forced into a life of crime. The crime lord Jang (Choi Min-sik) implants a package of illegal drugs into her lower intestine and sends her on her way. She is then taken captive by Jang’s men and locked away in a cellar. After one tries to rape her, she fights back and then is repeatedly kicked in the stomach, bursting the bag of drugs. The drugs then leak into her blood stream causing her to have a strange reaction.
The drugs causes her brain to expand the typical 10% that we use. She begins to exhibit strange powers that begin to take over her whole body. She gets in contact with Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman), the leading expert in the brains capacity and how it works. She begins to work with him to solves her crisis and take vengeance on the ones who started it all.
Lets get this out-of-the-way first, the plot is completely illogical and doesn’t really make sense when you think about it. The movie tries to take this scientific approach to the story that really doesn’t need to be done. I like the idea of less is more and having an explanation for what the drug is meant to do really bogs down the story that is trying to be told. To say that Besson’s filmography takes interesting concepts and never fully realizes them. The Fifth Element is another offender of this but it pulls it off perfectly. Lucy takes a philosophical approach to what we can do with unlimited access to our brain but never fully convinces me that it would even be possible to achieve. There was some points in the movie where he uses stock footage to show off the metaphors going on. It makes it more interesting to see how her powers would affect the real world and the theories of what is achievable when our brain reaches full capacity. There isn’t a dull moment and Besson at least makes the venture fun and never really takes his focus off of Lucy and her powers.
The performance from Scarlett Johansson is incredible but emotionless. At one point during the movie Lucy is talking to Professor Norman about how opening her mind has removed all emotions and feelings from her. So Scarlett’s robotic and lifeless performance actually makes sense in the context of the movie. She is good at coming off wooden and it makes her character more interesting and brings life to the movie. She embraces this and makes the character her own. Morgan Freeman is completely wasted though. He is only used as exposition and nothing else. To me it seems that he was written into the story just to tell the audience what is going on. His talents are wasted and his character is useless. If he was removed from the movie entirely I think the movie would actually be better. Instead of telling us what is going on just show us, Besson achieves that well with the stock footage but the explanation just kills the movie.
The movie excels when she is seeking vengeance towards her kidnappers. It would have been interesting to see a super powered female take on her captors in the typical revenge film format it would have been at least different. Instead it brings the idea of technological singularity into the picture. I like the idea and the end really fits with what they were going for but when the two are mixed together it feels off. In one hand you have a science fiction along the lines of Transcendence, in which artificial intelligence takes center stage, and the other is closer to Leon: The Professional. The major problem faced here is that it can’t decide which it wants to embrace.
Even though I enjoyed the movie I never felt that it was fully realized and could have been better if they didn’t attempt to be smarter than it was.