MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Lucy’

Lucy-2014-Movie

Film: Lucy
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Luc Besson

Luc Besson has to be messing with us. Either that, or he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

The man behind Léon: The Professional, The Fifth Element and The Transporter series is back in theaters this summer with a new film by the name of Lucy. At first glance, the film offers a slick, thought-provoking look at what might happen if a woman scorned was unable to unlock 100% of her mental capacity. The actual feature, however, offers something far more silly.

Lucy tells the story of a woman (Scarlett Johansson) who, after being kidnapped and forced to smuggle a new street drug, awakes in a prison cell to learn the sack that was surgically placed inside her body has begun to leak. The drugs enter her bloodstream at an alarming rate and, as the trailers teased, Lucy begins to change. Her mind unlocks as the drugs rush through her body, and as that happens she is able to do more than ever before, including moving people and objects without touching them. She can even control gravity, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Johansson is great in the lead role, and even when the story begins to come off the rails she delivers a performance that you never want to end. This is no great surprise really, but it’s good to know becoming a member of the Marvel universe has not gone to her head altogether. This film demands a strong lead, and in the end it’s her portrayal of Lucy that lingers in your mind as the theater raises the lights.

Morgan Freeman is the lighthouse in the storm of changes that are happening in Lucy’s life throughout the duration of the film. He’s a scientist with many theories on the human mind, and after Lucy realizes what is happening to her she seeks out his help. It’s a role not too far removed from what Freeman delivered in Transcendence, but it does end far better for him.

The central premise of Lucy is based on the idea that humans only use 10% of our mental capacity. This idea has been debunked several times over, but this is a movie so there is no reason to let that interfere with a fun sci-fi journey. The only problem is, Lucy uses this idea of unlocking one’s potential as a backbone for the progression of the film without properly conveying the changes that occur. The first time we meet our heroine she is functioning around 7%, which is a number we know because it flashes on the screen in a bold white font. By 20%, which coincidentally happens about twenty minutes into the film, she’s convulsing on ceilings and mastering various fighting skills without moving a muscle or blinking an eye. At 50%, she’s moving objects. You have no idea why she could not move objects at 20% other than the fact you sit through screens that read ’30%’ and ’40%’ before it happens onscreen. Otherwise, nothing in the actions or words onscreen express to the viewer that an evolution has occured. Lucy simply upgrades and performs, like a wizard slowly remembering how to perform magic.

Lucy’s other issue, and the reason I began by saying that I believe Luc Besson is messing with us, is the fact that the majority of the film involves extended sequences of people discussing bullshit science as if it were hard facts. It’s as if Besson believes having a commanding voice deliver nonsense somehow makes that nonsense coherent. It might sound smart, to some, but anyone who has ever put any effort into learning about the human mind will immediately recognize nonsense for what it is and become a little less engaged with the film.

All that aside, there will probably be no other film released this year edited like Lucy, and for those who like their films a bit more metaphorical, that is meant to be a compliment. Besson interjects footage of animals hunting with Lucy’s initial kidnapping, and as the drugs elevate Lucy’s understanding of the universe, audiences are given a journey through time and space to the very origin of all things. It’s beautiful and crazy in a way unlike anything Terrance Malick could deliver, but I am not sure the average moviegoer will find it all that interesting.

Lucy is a short-lived acid trip that is chock full of scientific nonsense and offers surprisingly few action scenes. It sort of feels like Besson came up with the film’s premise and ran with whatever ideas popped into his head from that moment on. The results, while aided by a strong performance from the film’s leads, play out liked a mixed bag of hit or miss concepts that are never fully realized and end far too soon.

GRADE: C-

Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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