Scarlett Johansson gains access to superhuman abilities beyond comprehension in the new sci-fi action film Lucy! Is Luc Besson's new film a wild ride worth seeing or is it a disappointment? 411's Jeffrey Harris checks in with his full review!
Directed By: Luc Besson Written By: Luc Besson Runtime: 90 minutes MPAA Rating: Rated R
Lucy - Scarlett Johansson Professor Norman - Morgan Freeman Mr. Jang - Min-sik Choi Pierre Del Rio - Amr Waked Richard - Pilou Asbaek The Limey - Julian Rhind-Tutt
Watching Lucy, I can see why Scarlett Johansson was attracted to the role. It provided her with chance to work with eclectic filmmaker Luc Besson. That said, while the story contains some interesting set pieces and ideas, it never quite comes together in a cohesive whole. I give credit where credit is due to writer and director, Luc Besson, for trying something a little different. However, the movie in execution is a wild, hodgepodge mess and nowhere near as appealing or fun as say, The Fifth Element.
What I found interesting about Lucy is that it was constantly throwing curveballs. The plot never quite evolves where one thinks it will. Although the plot does not exactly keep viewers on the edge of their seats, it does have some rather unpredictable plot turns.
The story follows Johansson as Lucy, an American exchange student living in China. She is tricked by her boyfriend Richard into delivering a package to some unsavory Chinese mobsters. Richard is blown to hell, and Lucy is taken captive by scumbag mob king Mr. Jang (Choi) and his minions. Lucy is then forced to become a mule for the mob’s new experimental drug, CPH4. A pouch is surgically inserted into her gut. However, some thugs beat Lucy up and the drug pouch leaks into her bloodstream. Apparently, the drug gives Lucy the ability to access more parts of her brain, going off of the theory that humans only use about 10 percent of their brain capacity. My understanding is that this theory has been disproved, but the film is science fiction. Having access to additional areas of her brain causes Lucy to evolve, and she gains extra-sensory abilities. The problem is that the evolution of her body also causes her body to break down. Lucy decides to track down the other drug mules to get more doses of the drug to continue her evolution and stay alive. Nothing in the plot is ever quite clear after the opening act.
Basically, Lucy’s evolution allows her mind access to information beyond the realm of human comprehension. However, she does not know what to do with this information, so she seeks help from Professor Norman (Freeman) on what to do with all the newfound facts in her noggin. For the sake of the story, Norman is the movie’s strongest proponent of theory that the human brain only uses 10 percent of its capacity. In a way, it is almost as if Lucy is evolving into the perfect, Supreme Being that is Leeloo in The Fifth Element…or something similar.
Near the end of the film, after Lucy has inexplicably caused a rather pointless car chase, Besson stages an excessive shootout between the French police and the Chinese mobsters. However, Lucy is essentially already in “God Mode” at this point. It makes the presence of a gunfight rather pointless and questionable. It was hard to invest in Mr. Jang as a villain when he poses absolutely no threat to the protagonist.
Again, I can see why Johansson was attracted to the role. It is not the typical action heroine role, and it has a lot of weird, wild ideas. She is a great cinematic presence as Besson’s latest femme fatale, but as the plot gets weirder and weirder, many viewers will probably be left scratching their heads. Morgan Freeman is, well…Morgan Freeman. It is a Morgan Freeman paycheck type role. It is not that Morgan Freeman is a bad actor, but this role is interchangeable with just about every nine out of 10 movies he appears in.
Besson throws a lot of interesting ideas into the story, but he is never able to quite mesh his trademark femme fatale/action film scenario with the more ambitious sci-fi ideas. There is one interesting sequence where it appears that Lucy literally transcends time, space and the universe, going to the very edge of creation. Besson visualizes these ideas well, but it was rather unsatisfying how all these ideas came together in the plot.
The 411: Lucy is a weird mishmash of ideas. Some of those ideas are interesting, and the story constantly defies your expectations about the direction its going. However, the wild ideas of the story simply do not mesh with the typical, hyper actions stylings of writer-director Luc Besson. Johansson puts in a solid performance where she gains awesome abilities beyond the realm of human understanding. I would recommend waiting to see the film on Netflix or DVD instead of seeing it in a theater.