Lucy: Movie Review
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi
Director: Luc Besson
Part lecture on human evolution and part chase thriller, Luc Besson's Lucy is a curious hybrid, a mesh of didacticism and destruction.
Johansson plays the titular Lucy, an American who finds herself thrust into the criminal underworld of Taipei when her new beau insists she deliver a case stuffed with goodness knows what to Mr Jang (Choi). The contents of the case are a synthetic drug, CPH4 - and along with three others, Lucy is turned into an unwitting drug mule,with the contents sown into her stomach for delivery.
However, when the contents of the drug split in Lucy's stomach after a beating from Jang's goons (one of the logical missteps in the piece), she finds her brain opens up for use to more than the usual 10% - and her consciousness begins to expand, giving her powers she'd never had before.
So, using those powers, she decides to get revenge on those who wronged her before her brain reaches the previous uncharted domain of 100% capacity.
Eschewing philosophy into the narrative as well as defying an kind of logic, Besson's Lucy is determined to get to his audacious goal without stopping for breath to explain how or why. Intercutting with scenes of evolution, gazelles being stalked by hunters as Lucy heads into the gang-world, and using CGI molecules (some of ILM's finest work to show Lucy's cortexes opening up), Besson's created something trippy throughout.
Johansson's eminently watchable and her transcendence from American good time girl to badass to something else entirely at the end works because you're gunning for her the moment you see her, despite any form of character development being thrown out of the window (which to be frank, would have slowed the pace of this slick mash up of Transcendence / Limitless / The Matrix). Ironically, she appears to go the other way from what she's portrayed in Under The Skin; there, her alien started off aloof before gradually becoming more human. Here, Lucy takes the opposite journey, gradually becoming more machine-like the further her brain edges toward the 100%.
Morgan Freeman cements his status as the go-to actor for any kind of voice of reason / scientist trying to explain things (more or less exactly mirroring his recent outing in Transcendence) as the sci-fi action thriller heads towards its hyper-visual logic-confounding conclusion.
With its Euro-stylings, visual brilliance (even if it defies any kind of reasoning) constant cutting philosophical interludes (to Freeman's lecturing or evolution, apes and dinosaurs), Besson's given us something that's the complete opposite of what you'd expect; leaps of logic bound a little too far and at some point, you have to decide if you're on board with it all or out.
The central premise is an intriguing one and perhaps, in some perverse ways, benefits from not being explained and dulled down with long scenes of exposition, but nevertheless Lucy remains one of the most intriguing pieces committed to celluloid this year, destined to polarise but also destined to provoke debate.