STARRING: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked, Choi Min-sik
DIRECTOR: Luc Besson
It was supposed to be a simple job. All Lucy had to do was deliver a mysterious briefcase to Mr. Jang. But immediately Lucy is caught up in a nightmarish deal where she is captured and turned into a drug mule for a new and powerful synthetic drug. When the bag she is carrying inside of her stomach leaks, Lucy’s body undergoes unimaginable changes that unlocks her mind’s full potential 100%. With her new-found powers, Lucy turns into a merciless warrior intent on getting back at her captors. She receives invaluable help from Professor Norman, the leading authority on the human mind, and French police captain Pierre Del Rio.
One reason “Lucy” emerges an enjoyably nutty diversion rather than a self-important slog is that it pays deft, knowing homage to any number of Hollywood sci-fi head-trip classics, embedding its ideas in a dense labyrinth of cinematic references that somehow end up feeling sly rather than shopworn. In trying to locate mankind’s precarious position within the greater cosmic order while also anticipating the literally mind-blowing next phase of human evolution, Besson’s film carries unmistakable traces of both “2001” and “The Tree of Life.” (Some of it even takes place in outer space.) Lucy’s gradual rise to omniscience and omnipotence recalls Neo’s own such journey in “The Matrix,” while her many black-suited Korean opponents suggest another army of Agent Smiths (Asian Smiths?). And in those moments when Lucy uploads herself, Big Brother-style, to every computer and TV screen in the vicinity, the movie can’t help but suggest a livelier, less ponderous remake of this year’s similar-themed “Transcendence.”
Not least among these allusions to other movies are the obvious echoes of Besson’s own. Like “La Femme Nikita,” “Leon: The Professional” and “The Fifth Element” before it, “Lucy” is a slickly engineered showcase for a kickass heroine whom we instinctively, unhesitatingly root for. It also feels like a calculated bid for popularity with a younger American audience that may be unfamiliar with this particular Gallic genre maestro (the “Taken” movies he produced notwithstanding). Certainly, after the bland history lesson of “The Lady” and the joyless family-friendly shenanigans of the “Arthur” trilogy, this is easily the director’s most alert, energized and recognizable piece of direction in years — a movie that, with its muscular widescreen imagery, vibrant streaks of color and pulsing musical beats, as well as its occasional tonal missteps and moments of unintentional hilarity, feels unmistakably like the work of its director.
French filmmaker Luc Besson (Léon: The Professional and The Fifth Element), who has also produced and written a number of successful thrillers (such as Takenand The Transporter) directs Lucy. In spite of its sci-fi action marketing, the film is more aptly described as sci-fi drama with a few stylized action beats. This isn’t to say that, on its own terms, Besson’s film is a misfire – it just might not be the gun-toting, jump-kicking brawler that some moviegoers were expecting. Instead, Besson delivers an uneven but interesting blend of philosophy and scientific theory that attempts to comment on human nature and our place within all of creation – with subtle and not-so subtle filmmaking decisions to hammer home his message.
- Interesting plot.
- Scarlet Johannson’s performance.
- Homage to other films of the genre.
- Not sci-fi action like it was marketed.
- Poor filmmaking choices.
- Creationism messages.
SCORE: 6.0 / 10
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