Lucy Movie Review

When the press materials first came out, if there was anything to be said about the new film by Luc Besson (Leon, The Fifth Element, The Transporter, Taken), it's that it was too similar to 2011's Limitless, but the difference here, as it turns out, is that it pushes the concept further, in the realms of superheroism. While transporting a designer drug, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) accidentally takes in a large quantity of it, lending her the ability to access more than 10% of her brain. Something which I didn't know going in - the percentage she can access actually increases as the film goes on, until it finally reaches 100%.
Scarlett Johansson is Lucy
It's perfectly fine as films like these go, even if the fantasy that it's fulfilling isn't necessarily a helpful one. Maybe we all dream, sometimes, of what would happen if we were smarter, or had the ability to psychically control other people, but in reality, all of that is incidental to the bigger picture stuff, you know, friendship and all the rest of it. I think if you were to do some tests, I doubt any strong correlation between intelligence and happiness exists, but please email me if you are able to prove otherwise.

Although the film is mostly concerned with Lucy, what I found myself wondering was what happens when the drug ends up on the streets? Obviously someone's figured out how to manufacture it, so whether or not she wipes out the distributors, it would be extremely easy for someone else to put it on the market again.

In some ways, it seems like a pretty cool drug, aside from that it makes you die. Additionally, as Lucy says, you come to lose your humanity to some extent - it's our weaknesses and flaws that make us human, and, without that, what are we really, other than some kind of robotic automaton, simply going around, performing practical functions like bizarre automatic robot machines? She does contradict herself, however, when she finds herself crying over memories from early in her life that she can now remember vividly, like the taste of her mother's milk - which she candidly admits, actually, to her mother, prompting derisive laughter in the theater, which somebody really should have noticed in the test screening phase. While the film is hardly Colombiana or Taken 2 as far as bad Luc Besson movies go, his movies do have a bad habit of being sloppy and ragged, let down by individual scenes that perplex or disappoint, and this is no exception.
Video: Lucy HD Trailer Scarlett Johansson finally gets to have super powers in Luc Besson's Lucy

What happened to Lucy's mum anyway? One moment, she's having her own milk described to her, and then we never hear from her again. Did she ever find out what happened to her daughter? "Er, well, ma'am, it's kinda hard to explain, but your daughter, uh... took a magic drug and turned into a superhero, and then, uh, became a weird computer."
If there's anything positive than can be invariably said for a Luc Besson production, it's that his casts are racially diverse, though I do presume this is a consequence of the international funding he seeks more than anything else. Choi Min-sik (who played Oh Dae-su in Oldboy) is given far more to do here than comparable actors in comparable films, such as Michael Nyqvist in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, who, there, mostly appeared on diegetic screens to deliver exposition. Amr Waked, too, does good work as Lucy's love interest, and is a refreshingly unconventional choice for the role.

Before Lucy (the film, not the character), I would far more readily recommend Limitless, which has a similar premise, but doesn't go too far with it. Unlike Scarlett Johansson, who has always been a cold and distant presence, a kind of art object to be admired, not a human to be empathised with, Bradley Cooper has enough charm and personality to carry the film and take us with him on his journey. The effects of the drug in that film, too, are far more palatable, and so it works better as the kind of wish-fulfillment fantasy that it's trying to be.

If anything, I can't wait for the sequel, "Lucy 2: 2 Lucy 2 Lucy," wherein a bunch of ravers eagerly gobble down a whole bag of the stuff and incidentally become a team of superheroes a la the Fantastic Four. There are plenty of weaknesses in the story of the film, but perhaps the most significant is that these Koreans are happily selling a drug that transforms people in magic crime-fighters. I imagine it sells like hotcakes - I mean, if I could take a pill and turn into Iron Man, I happily would - but I just have to wonder if the consequences are worth it. I mean, not only does Lucy cause like a billion dollars of collateral damage, she ultimately kills everyone who ever had anything to do with the drug. I mean, if I were those Koreans, I would have just sold coke.

Lucy DVD

Lucy (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) 
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photo credit: BagoGames via photopin cc

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  1. I saw the film, didn't review it. Hated the ending, as it was a letdown. Was hoping for a big finale instead of her just turning into a digital something that was to be present everywhere.

  2. in the last few years it looks like Luc Besson is loosing it. On the other hand at least Scarlett Johansson finally got to play a heroine with super powers.