FILM REVIEW: Lucy

Personally, I like Luc Besson films: The Fifth Element & Leon easily rate in my top 100 films, standing up to endless repeat viewings, and La Femme Nikita & Subway would probably make it into the top 150 (the latter is a gem). Lucy narrowly misses the top 100, but it’s definitely worth seeing… at least twice!  The film can be considered to be in three acts and whilst the third (shortest) act may cause many a debate in the pub afterwards, the first three-quarters of the film are pure Besson brilliance.

The very excellent Scarlett Johansson plays Lucy, a student/wannabe entertainer of sorts living in China, who is tricked by the slenderest of sexual relationships into be a courier for the No#1 drug magnate in the region. Charged with transporting drugs that have been surgically implanted in her abdominal cavity, she is violently manhandled by the drug-lord’s hoods and the drugs leak into her body.

As it turns out, these drugs are based on a hormone which is only produced in a fetus in development of the brain – think stems cells on adrenaline. This has the effect of increasing her brain power (and self-awareness) from the current human average of 10%, exponentially up to 100%. However, as her powers increase, her body, which is not designed to cope with this level of hormone, starts to head towards accelerated decrepitude. At this point, and with the drugs lord in hot pursuit, she reaches out to both a professor on cellular brain physiology (Morgan Freeman) and a French police officer to help her stop her condition and track down the other drug mules carrying the drug into several European locations.

The first quarter act of the film moves at a good pace: we get a Scarlett voice-over to Freeman’s scientific observations about how under used the human brain is. This is visualised particularly well with intermittent slicing of library footage to illustrate the points the narrative is trying to make – totally brilliant and utilised in just the right amount. We then move into Lucy’s coercion into being a drug mule, and the incident that results in her chemical reaction, all handled very quickly, but deftly.

The second act (roughly 50% of the film) is her “evolution”; as the drug takes effect, her powers unfold and restrained use of special effects is used to demonstrate her increasing abilities in telepathy, telekinesis, morphology and ultimately teleportation. At the same time she contacts Morgan Freeman as the professor who can best understand her. Whilst it might be said that he is too easily persuaded of her genetic mutation, her roping-in of French detective, Amr Waked, to capture the other drug mules at various European airports, is better handled. We also have the first signs of absurdity though, as drugs Min-sik Choi seems to be able to deploy insane amounts of resources in Europe to attack the police, in a fashion reminiscent of The Terminator (or should that be Leon?)

The final act is when the controversy starts. I won’t give anything away, but as Lucy becomes more self-aware, there are literally no limits to what she can do, or what Besson is prepared to commit to film. Yes, it does get a little absurd, but Besson is clearly aware of it, and the film is not trying to take itself seriously. If you can watch Wanted‘s bullet bending antics and not let it ruin your enjoyment of that film, then my advice is just watch the film and enjoy it for what it is.

I watched this with Dan Tovey (another GS blogger) and we came up with a better ending whereby Lucy would give birth to a little girl better equipped to handle the enhanced brain power (yes…we stole that from Demon Seed). But that said, I think you should see the ending for yourself and decide whether you’ve been short-changed or not.

From a cast perspective, SJ didn’t have to work as hard as she does as Black Widow, but it’s a physical venture that she capably delivers. Equally well, Morgan Freeman cruises by in a role that so comfortably fits itself to his character actor skills. The other actors are just the correct amount of over-the-top to the occasion, except Waked who looks suitably & believably bewildered by the events unfolding around him.

If you’re up for Black Widow super-powered by The Fifth Element in a Leon-styled setting, then give Lucy her viewing. For more information on Lucy, visit the official website.

Rating: 4/5
Blogger: Silverfox

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