Writer: Luc Besson
Cast: Scarlett Johnasson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked
Running time: 89mins
As Lucy is the work of a teenager whose read some Richard Dawkins and watched a few John Woo movies, we’ve decided to publish the director’s school report…
Summary: This year Luc Besson submitted “Lucy” as his end of term project. In Lucy Scarlett Johansson plays the titular average girl, who is forced to become a drugs mule by Korean gangsters, transporting a new narcotic in her belly. The drug bag bursts when she is assaulted by Taiwanese thugs, releasing large doses into her bloodstream, making Lucy super-intelligent. She then has to defeat the gangsters, get more of the drug to survive and unlock the secrets of the universe. Tree of Life meets Nikita best sums up what Luc is trying to achieve here.
Full report: Lucy is a spirited movie and Luc should be proud he tells his story in 89 minutes; many of his peers are taking almost twice as long with similar subject matter.
But ironically, for a film about a character using 100% of her brain Lucy can only be fully enjoyed if the audience disengages theirs.
It also sees Luc falling into his repeated bad habit of runaway copycatting, something we’ve had to talk to him about before.
Lucy bears a striking resemblance to Luc’s previous films Nikita (girl with a gun), Subway (overblown car chase), Leon (girl with a gun, Asian gangsters) and even Angel-A, his 2005 project with which we were not overly impressed.
Unfortunately, Luc does not limit this pick n’ mix approach to his own work. Once Lucy becomes super-intelligent, Tree of Life, Limitless and Akira are all added to the mix. Particularly during a climax of metaphysical musing that allows Luc to indulge his penchant for cinéma du look.
Lucy’s increasing brain power is charted by handy onscreen percentages, but Luc only seems to have used 3 or maybe 4% of his intelligence in creating this story.
Employing a “what does this button do” technique to scriptwriting, he requires disbelief not so much be suspended, more packed into a steel capsule and fired into the sun.
Morgan Freeman’s Basil Exposition-alike neuroscientist tells us that amazing things can happen when we start using more of our “cerebral capacity”.
But Luc, please tell us how expanded “cerebral capacity” allows Lucy to grow her hair at will and change its colour? Or bend radio and television signals on command? Or levitate other people? Or transform her surroundings into The Matrix (another film you clearly enjoyed).
Because it’s cool will most likely be Luc’s answer. Presumably the reason why the gangsters are all Asian (including Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik as the big boss).
And why did he cast the talented Scarlett Johansson and then require her to deliver a watered-down redo of her alien act in Under the Skin?
Despite ourselves however, we did talk at length about Lucy. Any film that features the Big Bang, dinosaurs, Blues Brothers style vehicular mayhem and Lucy momentarily fragmenting on a particularly bad trip is not without enjoyment. Be it of the “mad as a bag of cats” variety.
But, if Luc wants to fully expand his filmmaking cerebral capacity, it may be time for him to lose the girl and the gun.
Final grade: C ()