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Lucy - Movie Review

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Lucy - Movie Review

2 stars

Bummer. Well, at least Lucy looks pretty.

The return of Luc Besson to the director’s chair after the massive failure of The Family doesn’t come without a few glitches as he guides Scarlett Johansson through a criminal underworld full of drug smugglers. She is, after all, the embodiment of female power - or so says the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and audiences, male and female alike, always enjoy watching her glide across the screen. In that way, Lucy and its psychedelic in-the-Sky-with-Diamonds moments work to create a trippy experience. Unfortunately, it is not a memorable one nor, with Besson resting on his laurels, is it new.

For Besson, Lucy is just a continuation of some hefty female empowerment themes that began with Anne Parillaud in La Femme Nikita about 25 years ago. He doesn’t miss a beat in creating another female character that can, yet again, kick everyone’s ass in seconds flat. For audiences, the problematic science behind Lucy is reminiscent of the problematic science behind Limitless, the film where Bradley Cooper takes a drug to achieve the kind of power KanYe West only raps about. The similarities may be bothersome but the two scripts – when you break them down to their nuts and bolts – aren’t that similar.  

Lucy has a gangster picture meets science fiction type of vibe. It is a film where bullets fall safely out of their gun thanks to a brain which has been chemically altered to use its full 100% capacity and can somehow control their trajectory. The thing is that in Lucy, the drug runners – led by Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik – have no idea what the drug does. It’s experimental at best. They just know that they will make
a lot of dough from it and need kidnapped humans to smuggle it through ingested plastic bags.  

Amr Waked as a tough-talking French detective in a throwaway role wants the drug trafficking stopped. Morgan Freeman as a professor interested in Lucy’s transformation wants to study her. As an admirer of Johansson’s curves, I don’t blame him. Everyone else is as disposable as the weapons thrust to the ceiling by Lucy’s new powers; powers developing after the unthinkable happens. The poor girl, having her filmic origins start in the role of victim, is one of these gangster’s human mules. Her forcibly ingested bag breaks and a small amount remains in her, starting her incredible journey as she becomes judge and jury for criminals and, with one quick look at an x-ray, people suffering from incurable cancer.

Ultimately, she is transformed into a literal blonde bombshell, able to speak new languages, stop bullets, drive cars at impossible speeds, and – what really interests me - see the whole cosmic consciousness at work. Those visionary moments really track well no matter how insane the logic behind them gets. Unfortunately, what interests Besson is the same shit he’s done a thousand times before. Car chases. Action tropes. You get the idea. The really trippy stuff barely gets explored in Lucy.

At times, Lucy is pure psychedelics with a vision reader like few other films and really employs a lot of interesting special effects. Bravo for the effects team. Really. Most of the time; however, the film suffers from the typical action movie plot and Besson’s standard stunts. You won’t get to know the lead character. She is mysteriously void of emotion. And we all know that Johansson can act. You just won’t see any of that here. This is murder at its most monotone.

Besson has his reasons to remain faithful to his stereotypical heroine throes but the robotics – which extends to the tired action beats - in Lucy leaves it a bit clichéd. Besson is largely on autopilot. Disappointing for a film that also has moments that are fascinatingly strange and otherworldly as Lucy discovers a whole new way to see.

Lower those expectations as Lucy is dumber than it is smart and try to enjoy watching Scarlett Johansson play God. I know I did…for a bit.

Lucy - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality.
90 mins
: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi
: Sci-fi | Action
The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Somebody put a bag of drugs inside me. I need you to take it out. It's leaking."
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 26, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
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.

No details available.

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