Director: Luc Besson Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman & Min-sik Choi Synopsis: “A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.” Rating: 15 Runtime: 89 minutes
” Life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it?”
Lucy is the kind of film we don’t see enough of these days. It features a strong female lead, an OTT storyline, some thrilling action and is condensed into a tight 90 minute runtime that has no mid or post credits stinger. To some audience members, this may sound like one of Dante’s circles of hell, but to others it will be a huge relief knowing that the film you are seeing is completely self-contained, and does not require you to spend three hours of your life in a multiplex. Of course, Lucy has more to offer than being a welcome break from the raft of comic book films and films based upon 80’s action figures, because Lucy is a return to form for director Luc Besson, and features a great central performance from Scarlett Johansson.
When we are first introduced to Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), she is being coerced into delivering a package by her not so trustworthy boyfriend (Pilou Asbaek) who, for reasons yet unknown doesn’t want to deliver the package to its recipient, Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi). As Lucy is strong-armed into the deal, we see brief glimpses of her in nightclubs partying and drinking and we begin to get the sense that she isn’t in Taiwan to see the sights. Upon her delivery of the package Lucy is apprehended by Mr. Jang and his henchmen as they attempt to use her as a mule to carry a new drug called CPH4 across Europe.
It’s here that things get interesting. As Lucy is being taken across Europe, one of her captors beats her while she is in a holding cell. This causes the bag of drugs, which had been sewn into her stomach upon capture, to burst and release a nasty mix of chemicals into her bloodstream. Once the CPH4 is moving around her body, Lucy begins to be able to do things no other human being can, as she can now access more than 10% of her brain.
This is the main question that director Luc Besson is trying to answer in the film, what would happen if we could use more than the 10% of our brain power? Would we turn into X-Men like superheroes who can seemingly do anything, or would we simply find the power overwhelming and be crippled under these new-found abilities?
Lucy doesn’t really answer these questions in any sort of coherent or realistic fashion. Sure, we could perhaps read faster, type quicker, feel a little less emotionally and see less intrusions in our daily life, but the events of this film are, as Morgan Freeman’s Professor Norman would put it, entering the realms of pure science fiction.
If Besson were to attempt to answer some of the more pertinent questions the film brings up, then Lucy would look more like one a documentary from National Geographic. Instead, Besson goes for the jugular. After a somewhat slow build up we are treated to a barrage of car chases, shoot outs, Inception style fights and a little bit of time travel.
In fact it’s all a bit nuts really. The plot makes little sense, while the events of the film are pure comic book in their style, it all takes a giant suspension of disbelief to get along with it. Do that though, and you are treated to one of the better non-franchise films this year.
Scarlett Johansson does some of her best work here. Her transformation from all out party girl to kick-ass heroine is fully believable and engaging yet distant. Johansson can at times seem a little removed from the films she is in, but that far off look is perfect here as the young girl whose world is suddenly tossed upside down.
The rest of the cast support Johansson ably, even if they are a little languid at times. Morgan Freeman is pretty much on cruise control, and provides little else other than a calming voice to the otherwise manic happenings of the film. Amr Waked provides the audiences eyes as the police officer who helps Lucy take revenge on her captor’s. While Min-sik Choi is menacing as crime lord Mr. Jang, his character is not utilised anywhere near enough.
This, of course, is irrelevant. As all Besson wants to do is sell us a concept and hope we get on board with it enough to have a good time.
In summary: Lucy is a mixed bag of action, sci-fi, time travel and drama. It won’t be for everyone, and its multiple stylings may put many off. But for those who are willing to go with it, Lucy provides, at the very least, a fun throwaway action flick with a great central performance from Scarlett Johansson.