Lucy (2014) – Review

Directed by Luc Besson
Written by Luc Besson
Starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi

If you call yourself a fan of Luc Besson, we might at first imagine that you are something of a cinephile. Your ordinary punter, after all, is not taken too readily with the work of more than a couple of directors if you’re lucky. Most average joes will be unable to name more than a couple off the top of their heads, in fact. Stars, on the other hand, will come marching to the tips of those same tongues without too much fuss. Luc Besson, the imaginative and playful director of the likes of Leon, The Fifth Element and Arthur & The Invisibles takes an altogether unoriginal idea here and whilst he doesn’t really provide anything other than a massive sugar rush for his audience, it’s a fix still worth the price you need to pay the pusher.
When Lucy gets accidentally involved in a drug deal of epic proportions, she is kidnapped and forced to run drugs as a mule for her captors. When the bag of powerful synthetics bursts inside her stomach, where the drugs have been inserted for transportation purposes, she begins to experience new senses and abilities as the drug enables her to use a greater portion of her brain than the rest of the people on the planet. Turning on her captors, she attempts to use her new found talents for the good of mankind, despite the very real efforts of some to stop her at all costs.
With the focus of his attention firmly lensed on Scarlett Johansson’s titular Lucy, Besson and Johansson prove without too much argument that it is possible, in a film populated largely by the male of the species, for a woman (albeit a fuel injected one) to helm an action movie with enough smarts to stop us from rolling our eyes. Our hero here is all things to everyone, it seems. Smart, beautiful and with an impatience for suffering fools gladly that is as frightening as it is exhilarating. As attractive a proposition to men as to women (although maybe for different reasons), Johansson marches through this plot like she owns every last second of it. Everybody else, frankly, is playing second fiddle to Besson’s own version of the modern woman, fiercely independent and blisteringly blinkered in terms of her goals and ambition.
Traditionally, Besson’s action scenes are crisp, vivid and finely constructed, and the same is certainly true here, with car chases that may well dizzy the audience, due to some unique and inventive shot choices and the sustained violence referred to by the censor is just as polished, possibly giving Lucy a less gritty, more clinical feel. The film is no less impressive for this as the tone of the delivery, unambiguous and pointed, matches the visuals and the character of Lucy herself who becomes less vulnerable and human as the screen time progresses and her own time runs out.
At a smidgen under an hour and a half, Lucy zips along at breakneck speed once it gets going, which doesn’t take too long, introducing us immediately to an innocent and likeable Lucy, about to be coerced into delivering a suitcase by a friend, with unfortunate (?) circumstances. From that point on, you will have little time to catch your breath and even as the plot progresses, you begin to wonder just how they will have time to fit everything in. By the conclusion, you’re not so much left wanting more, but satisfied that there was nothing else to show us and subsequently don’t feel short changed. A final act could be accused of being a little bit too trippy for the hyper realism that has gone before, but if you overlook the obvious unknowns around what happens when a person uses one hundred percent of their brain’s capacity, then Besson can probably be forgiven due to an impressive setup throughout.

Altogether, a worthy addition to Besson’s CV, sitting well alongside both Leon and The Fifth Element, but not an immediate cult hit in the making. Solid performances from the cast all round make this recommended viewing for both sci-fi and philosophy fans alike. Think more Limitless and less Trasncendence and you’re in the right ball park. It is neither of these, however, but does take elements from both, yet ends up being more satisfying than either of them.

Written for Media Pick


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