What happens when humans unlock the mysteries of the unknown 90% of the brain? A simple question Hollywood has explored over and over with the likes of Limitless among a slew of other films. It may be an idea that has been debunked by a number of experts, but Fifth Element director Luc Besson is taking a shot at the idea with Lucy starring the delectable Scarlett Johansson. Do the eccentricities of the director give it the spin it needs to succeed or do studio big wigs need to put this myth to bed?
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is your everyday girl hitting it off with a new boyfriend in Taiwan. The two are all about fun and games until he has Lucy do a quick case drop off for one of his clients. As expected, things go very wry very quickly and Lucy is kidnapped and used as a drug mule with the drugs sewn inside of her womb. After an accident, the drugs leak into her system which jump starts her brain as she begins to develop powers hidden within her mind. After her enlightenment process, she contacts Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) and begins a quest to unlock the greater mystery behind her powers.
Lucy may look like it has dumb blockbuster fun written all over it, but Luc Besson actually throws a number of visual parallels between Lucy’s growth and ideas of human evolution including survival of the fittest and the descent of man. One moment you’re watching Lucy mow down a room full of guys and the next you’re watching a lion pounce on a gazelle. These sequences are incredibly jarring, distracting, and really do nothing to further our understanding of Lucy’s rapid evolution. The execution is a total miss and what’s worse is that it comes with a pretentious air which haunts the tone of the entire movie.
Despite the serious tone and story issues, the movie doesn’t fail to deliver some really exciting action sequences featuring everyone’s favorite “easy on the eyes” actress Scarlett Johansson. She doesn’t really do anything we haven’t seen before, but her tough skinned femme fatale routine is still charming enough to have you rooting for her despite her unclear intentions. The longer the film goes on, the more ridiculous her powers become and the more fun we all get to have as she levels buildings and melts brains. There is a car chase sequence in the final stretch of the film that’s some of the most fun I’ve had with cars since Fast and Furious 6.
The fun and the spectacle eventually comes to a grinding halt in the final ten minutes of the film when the story goes crazy off the rails with a stunning sequence that inspires awe, but makes absolutely no sense for Lucy or the story this movie thought it was telling. The final sequence comes across as Luc Besson trying to create some sort of meaning for all of the nonsense and it fails spectacularly. Luc Besson is attempting to take 90 minutes of dumb action and cap it off with a poor man’s Terrance Malick sequence. It’s definitively pretentious, it’s not smart, and it almost ruins the all the fun.
Overall Lucy is about as nonsensical and absurd as a movie based on this premise can be. It’s got too much fun and enough Scarjo charm to call it a total waste of time, but you’ll be hard pressed to remember exactly what this movie was about in the years to come. It believes its far more intelligent than it actually is and fails to leave much of an impression either way. Lucy is a blink and you miss it chunk of summer entertainment. If you manage to catch it you’ll be left with a hint of wonder, but if you miss it you’ll never know the difference.
If you’re looking for a 90 minute distraction from the day to day then Lucy may be a worthy rental, but if you’re interested in a memorable summer blockbuster experience then you may want to pass for one of the more exciting movies hitting this summer.
The ridiculous premise is only made even more absurd by the execution. In the end, not a lot actually happens. Black Widow…err…Lucy just kills stuff and gets more powerful and then the film ends
Scarlet Johansson is a strong lead even when she has very little to work with, including the supporting cast. She delivers the same hardened Femme Fatale we’ve seen from her in The Mavelverse and it’s still got the perfect balance of charm and mystery. In other news Morgan Freeman is the new Robert De Niro as he cashes a paycheck by playing a mild mannered professor with very little to do.
Luc Besson knows how to deliver a slick looking product, but he’s not so great at weaving his more complex themes into an otherwise nonsensical plot. The visuals are really cool and he never misuses or overuses the always delightful slow-mo Scarjo technique.
Overall Effectiveness of the Film: 4.0
This movie doesn’t work on the intellectual level it thinks it does and the overindulgent direction almost ruins the film with an ending that is simply ridiculous for all the wrong reasons. There’s enough fun to merit a rental, but this is hardly something you want to spend your money on in a summer that’s already jammed packed with far more memorable movies.
Overall Score: 5.0
Original post can be found at Renegade Cinema