Originally conceived with Angelina Jolie in mind, the latest science fiction action movie from Luc Besson comes with big expectations from the man who made Leon and The Fifth Element. But is Lucy a classic movie in the making?
After being tricked by her boyfriend into delivering a suitcase of drugs to a drug lord Mr Jang in Taiwan, American student Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is forced into being a drug mule. When she is kicked in the stomach by her captors the drugs sewn into her stomach start to leak into her system. But this isn’t regular recreational drugs Lucy is carrying but a new synthetic drug that enables Lucy to unlock previously untapped areas of her brian. As she starts to reach her brain’s 100% potential she has to struggle to stay alive while fighting the vengeful Mr Jang.
There is a lot of things going on in Lucy. It’s ambition and scope is admirable. Besson clearly wants this to be above the average action/ thriller throwing in long narration from Morgan Freeman on science and philosophy with clips of the first woman among others. The problem is I got the feeling that if it Besson had taken away the science babble and focussed on making a more straight-forward kick-ass thriller then he would have produced a film that was more satisfying. It’s not that I want all my movies to be dumbed down but it felt like the film was trying to say something profound and fell rather short. It was actually distracting from the main story of Lucy developing these amazing powers as her mind expands. At times it reminded me a lot like Limitless, except a lot less fun.
Not that there isn’t good things to enjoy in Lucy. Scarlett Johansson is strong as Lucy and makes a believable action heroine just like we’ve seen her as Black Widow. She manages to show Lucy’s vulnerable side at the start of the film and make her a sympathetic character that the audience engages with. It’s a shame that as a side effect of unleashing her brian’s potential Lucy becomes less human, less emotional and more a robotic, god-like humanoid. The scenes where she is calling her mother on the phone and crying about how she remembers being a baby in her arms is quite affecting. However this is soon replaced with a blank faced expression that stays for most of the film. It’s a shame the film couldn’t have focused more on the emotional toll these new abilities were affecting Lucy rather than shutting off her emotional side completely.
We are also treated to some great action sequences such as car chase across Paris with Lucy controlling the other cars, and numerous fight scenes where Lucy gets to use all her powers against her enemies. The film also looks stunning with Besson showing he still has an eye for a great looking movie.
All in all Lucy is a good enough movie and definitely an interesting watch. But perhaps Besson’a ambition got in the way of a what could have been a great action/thriller. The ending in particular goes off into a weird direction. However a film as divisive as this will probably find a devoted fan base.
Rating 3/5 – bold, different but unfortunately not completely satisfying