•Director: Luc Besson
•Genre: Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
•Running time: 89 minutes
Lucy is a film that clearly faces an identity crisis which ultimately prevents it from shinning in any light. Scarlett Johansson plays Lucy, a typical college student, who finds herself kidnapped by Taiwanese gangster, Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik) and is tasked with importing a new powerful drug into Europe. The drug is a synthetic version of a chemical the human body produces that expands the human intellect by allowing it to access more than the presumed “10%” we currently have access to. The drug packets are inserted into her abdomen and accidentally enter her bloodstream. Within the next 24 hours we watch Lucy increases brain access until she becomes the human embodiment of a god as she approaches 100%. The delivery of Lucy’s abilities are so ridiculous that the film urges us not to take it too seriously which is fine but yet it seems to try to instill awe and wonder in us which only ends up being distracting.
“The film leaves nothing to the imagination and nothing to build up to.”
From the start, the film’s shots alternate between plot scenes and “documentary styled” footage of wild animals, dividing cells, and time-lapse of the advancements of human civilization. Although in the right hands and in moderation, these cinematic tools can enhance the qualities of a film, in this film its off-putting and only serves to highlight its shortcomings. The main one being: The film does a poor job at introducing the audience to the mythology they want us to buy into. They slap in a college professor played by Morgan Freeman (a character who I considered a waste and was highly underused) to give us a crash course in the “science” behind Lucy’s transformation completely stripping the audience of the chance to accept what is happening and the changes we can expect to see. The film leaves nothing to the imagination and nothing to build up to.
“You blink and Lucy is a demi-god.”
In a matter of minutes for the audience and merely hours for Lucy, she becomes a bad-ass killer capable of clearing out an entire room full of professionals killers, an emotionally detached human being only capable of logic and reason, and has developed the ability to manipulate people and the world around her. You blink and Lucy is a demi-god. OK, I get it. The film is not meant to be taken seriously and is a silly, fun, action film of ridiculous proportions. That’s the problem though. Its not fun. As mildly entertaining as it can be, it tries too hard to portray itself as this pseudo-deep documentary of the human lineage. In one instance its a mindless “superhero” flick and in the next, its trying to make us question what we think we know like in The Matrix and drawing relationship between time, mathematics, evolution, and emotions.
“Johansson’s performance as a human transforming into what is essentially a calculating super-machine is excellent.”
The film is lacking, as both an action film and a thriller as it seems more concerned with philosophical self awareness. Imagine Crank on an existential trip and you’ll have an idea what this film feels like. If the film had stretched out the plot line over the course of weeks or months, slowly building up to Lucy’s full potential, we would have seen a much better film. Unfortunately her overpowered state at about 30 mins into the movie nullified any sense of risk or danger and made for an anticlimactic end. At its best, it could have been a cult classic sci-fi thriller displaying elements of Akira and Limitless (a film to my disappointment I expected this one to outdo).
Johansson’s performance as a human transforming into what is essentially a calculating super-machine is excellent. Her minimalist eye contact, body language, and lack of intonation change while speaking truly makes us believe that she isn’t human. Unfortunately due to the poor pacing and plot line, we also forget she ever was. I felt nothing for Lucy. Under ideal circumstances this could be seen as a testament to Johansson’s performance and the character’s ultimate transformation. All it truly reveals in this case was how abruptly she changed with little to no graduation. In the end I felt nothing about feeling nothing for the film’s heroine. Lucy, I wanted to love you but no matter how hard I try, other than Scarlett Johansson’s screen time, there is very little to love. I give this film a 5/10👎.