An unwilling participant in a drug trafficking scheme involving an experimental new drug, Lucy is inadvertently exposed to the drug’s unusual characteristics. Lucy begins to utilize more and more of her brain capacity to the point where she can not only control her own body, but others around her and things such as phones, computers and gravity. Now she must enlist the help of strangers in a fight to survive.
Luc (The Fifth Element) Besson returns to the director’s chair to helm Lucy (2014) starring Scarlett Johansson in the title role. The film is pretentious, taking itself way to seriously and thinking way to high of itself. It constantly dances between a wanting to be a thoughtful science fiction driven examination at what would happen to the mind if it used far more of its capacity and following the structure of a fast paced action film. It also fails at any attempt at a character study or saying anything relevant or important about the human race, the human mind or humanity itself.
It wants to, it thinks it does, but it falls short. It simply just does stuff, what ever it needs to drive the narrative and propel its cast to the next scene. While this does result in a few entertaining action sequences and provides the director with a couple of interesting and astonishing flights of fancy, it consistently and continuously borders on the absurd and ridiculous. Despite the poor script and silly plot devices, Scarlett Johansson manages to carry the film with confidence and a poise, too bad there is nothing for her to really do. Min-sik Choi is chilling and imposing in the first portion of the film but his story continues for far too long wasting the great actor as it spirals into stereotype. Morgan Freeman continues to pay his rent with do-nothing roles like Professor Norman in this film. Lucy takes an interesting premise, a terrific cast and a unique opportunity to explore the human mind and wastes it all on mindless, goofy nonsense.
Lucy begins with its protagonist (Scarlett Johansson) confronting her somewhat boyfriend, Richard (Pilou Asbaek), about participating in delivering a mysterious package to one Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi). Richard handcuffs her to the briefcase leaving her no choice but to step into an inescapable, extraordinarily dangerous situation. Mr. Jang insists she deliver the newly created drug to the States, a drug that the criminals have sewn into her abdomen. When she is roughhoused by her captors, the drug is released into her system resulting in the frightened Lucy gaining the ability to access the far reaches of her mind, controlling herself, people around her and even gravity. The side effect is that her metabolism is greatly increased and she does not have very long to live. She enlists the help of Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) and Paris police officer Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked) in making the most of her remaining days on Earth.
Scarlett Johansson is the reason to see Lucy, she commands the screen and seems to have a great time in the role. She is truly convincing as a frightened woman in dire straights, her whole body screams the fear her character is experiencing. It is too bad that the script does not allow her to provide any depth to her role outside one fascinating sequence where she calls home to speak with her mother for one last time. The rest of the film has her either as the frightened young captive or the ice cold meta human. Once she transforms into super Lucy, there is very little else interesting about her besides her powers and plight. There is no charm, no warmth and no growth and there is no connection to the audience or anyone else in the story. She literally kisses Pierre in an attempt to keep a reminder of who she was but the point falls a flat and unexciting as Lucy is in lip locking with the Frenchman for any enjoyment or passion. The is no sexual tension and no reason to care if there is, or is not, any connection to be had. By this time, the only thing on the mind is ‘get on with it.’
Ironically, Luc Besson relies on the basest of action and conflict to tell a story that is about the deepest fathoms of the mind. He also decides to insert odd, jolting cuts from the film and narrative to shots of animals and nature to reflect – not so subtly – the point of the conversations. This only results in silly juxtapositions and pulling his audience out of the movie. He also removes far too much of the humanity from the story far too early and far too quickly rendering any attachment to the story or to Lucy minimal at best. She becomes something uninteresting, emotionless and cold with no one around to balance those contradictions off of. Besson has Professor Norman seeing her as a gift to humanity, a scientific prize to study and learn from. Officer Pierre Del Rio sees her as a threat and as a curiosity, only barely, almost randomly, deciding to protect her – but not so much for emotional, caring reasons, but because he is asked to. No one loves or cares for Lucy, not even Luc Besson, and certainly not the audience.
Lucy is light entertainment about a potentially heavy, mind-blowing topic, lazily thrown into a rote action plot full of gangsters and science fiction mumbo-jumbo. It succeeds solely on its own kinetic energy and the performance of its star Scarlett Johansson. It never confronts the dangers of the premise’s devices and its own possibilities head on, instead it has its star and protagonist doing circus tricks with no originality or depth. The film is hollow and lifeless with no soul or heart. It looks great, it moves fast and it has a fascinating chase scene or two. But it never draws the audience into the film failing to have anyone actually care for Lucy or her plight. Once she effortlessly knocks a hallway full of men aside with a wave of her hand fairly early on all sense of conflict and danger falls aside. With out any tension or fear for her safety, the film looses all sense of excitement or urgency. The audience is left staring at the screen mindlessly waiting for the pretty pictures and loud sounds to end.
2 out of 5