Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Pilou Asbæk
After being forced by her boyfriend Richard (Asbæk) to deliver a mysterious package to an even more mysterious figure, airhead Lucy (Johansson) find herself very much in the wrong place at the wrong time as she is forced, along with three other people, to transport a mysterious drug to Europe that has been stored in her abdomen. However after being attacked the bag carrying the drug splits and enters her into her blood stream. The drug is a revolutionary new drug that allows the human mind to access 100% of its brain instead of the apparent 10% the average human uses, as she unlocks more of her brain capacity she develops abilities beyond anyone’s wildest imagination but also loses the compassion that makes us human. With these new powers she seeks vengeance on her captors and stops this potentially powerful drug from ending up in the wrong hands.
Quantity over quality would be a phrase I would personally use to describe Luc Besson in the last couple of years, as he seems to churn out a fair amount of films (as producer/ writer/ director or all three) these days, but they have a tendency to be pointless remakes of his own superior original films (Brick Mansions) or bland and boring action movies (Three Days to Kill, Taken 2, The Family), though I admit that Lockout was good fun. Once upon a time when a film had the name Luc Besson attached to it that was a guarantee of very enjoyable and slick action, now it is more than a little off putting. Lucy looks set to be his best box office performance for a while, and I am sure having a currently on top of her game Scarlet Johansson in the leading role and a high concept narrative may help, but it is still utter rubbish. I would implore anyone yet to see Lucy not to contribute to its already staggering box office return.
Despite having a lean running time of under 90 minutes, Lucy is actually extremely boring with a plot that combines Limitless and Transcendence while having the visuals of 2001 and The Tree of Life mixed in with incredibly dull ‘action’ sequences. Many have written more eloquently than I ever could about the flaws in the science, and I am happy to forgive all that along with Morgan Freeman’s really awkwardly inserted exposition if the film is good silly fun, but Lucy simply is not. I am sure the science is meant to be taken with a pinch of salt (though only Luc Besson knows exactly by how much) but if that is the case then the film perhaps should not spend half of its time waffling on about philosophical gobbledegook about what intelligence truly is and how we measure it. It is all boring nonsense that has no real intelligence and is about as deep as a small puddle (and just as interesting). There are definitely some interesting ideas in there somewhere, but it would require a completely different film maker to examine them with any engaging substance.
It is unfortunately the science surrounding the plot that also completely undermines it as an action thriller. It is no spoiler to reveal that once Lucy goes over the 10% she can essentially defy the laws of physics and do pretty much what the hell she wants (all in the trailers) from about a third of the way through. Unfortunately Besson didn’t seem to think that this may completely detract from any intrigue in the plot as there is never any real sense of danger or our protagonist overcoming any obstacles. Well, it does as whenever our protagonist faces a fight it is obvious she will win with the minimal amount of ease and all the amazing things she can do with technology (and other things) feel more like lazy writing than anything else.
The plot also has a lot of loose ends that it makes no intention of ever sorting out, which is a real problem, considering the patronising and preachy nonsense spouted out in the film’s completely anticlimactic finale. I am happy to take it with a pinch of salt if it was a little of this nonsense and slick, frantic action, but the dialogue heavy nature of the film as Freeman and then Johansson spout out total gibberish, makes it a true effort to watch. Lucy is a truly laborious viewing experience from start to finish, it may be stylishly shot at times, but what could have been a fun genre mash-up is instead a totally nonsensical mess.
The film’s only saving grace is Scarlett Johansson; she captures perfectly Lucy’s transformation from shallow but compassionate airhead to someone who is almost completely robotic and forgetting what it is actually like to be human. Her performance, and that of the rest of the solid cast, is sadly a complete waste.
Lucy is a total mess of a film and a real effort to watch; with a ridiculous central premise and a hotchpotch of random ideas that actually then undermines any interest in what was already an extremely lame plot that Besson seems to make up as he goes along. Johansson’s powerhouse performance is literally the only redeeming feature of what has to be one of the worst films of 2014.