Lucy is an audaciously ridiculous sci-fi/action flick from writer/director Luc Besson based on the myth that we only use 10% of our brain capacity and what would happen to one young woman, when that changes. Science aside, it is a flick that is so brazenly off the wall that it is very enjoyable on a popcorn fun level, despite how silly it all is… and Besson knows it.
The film tells the overblown story of student Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) who is tricked into delivering a briefcase to dangerous drug lord Kang (Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik). Kang decides to use the terrified young woman as a drug mule to smuggle a new synthetic drug to it’s distributors. When the young woman is roughed up by one of the thugs, the bag breaks open and the experimental drug leaks into her body and begins to increase her brain capacity transforming Lucy into a superhuman who can control more and more with her mind as her brain function increases. But, as she tries to find a way to deal with her new abilities by seeking help from renown scientist, Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman)… Kang is in hot pursuit to get back his drugs and avenge himself on her. Car chases, pseudo science and telekinetic activity ensues.
Besson’s flicks as both director and producer can be very hit or miss, with The Fifth Element and The Professional being his best. Lucy isn’t quite up to those two but, if you can go with it’s outlandish premise, it can be a fun 90 minutes of action and Star Trek level sci-fi. There is plenty of action throughout and a lot of colorful SPFX sequences too, especially the more powerful Lucy becomes and she gains control over the people and things around her. Besson is having a good time with his premise and let’s you know this is all in fun by adding in snippets of stock footage to accent what is going on on-screen, such as footage of a leopard stalking it’s prey inter-spliced with Lucy walking into the hotel to deliver the briefcase. It’s silly but, that’s the point. Mixed in with the silliness and the outrageous science techno-babble, Besson gives us some surprisingly bloody violence with a few fast-paced car chases and ballistic shoot-outs that he does do very well and always has. The action and FX are all top notch and despite the ridiculousness of the whole thing, the cast take it very seriously too and it helps us to go along with it as much as we do.
As for that cast, it’s Johansson’s show and she gives a very good performance as a woman coming to terms with her transformation into something more then human. She handles the action scenes well and in the brief time before her transformation, she gives us a glimpse of a very likable, if not slightly ditzy young woman. We continue to like Lucy even after she transforms into logical, uber-Spock/Carrie and stick with her even as she becomes more emotionally detached from the world. Besson appears to like strong female characters in his movies and Lucy is no different. Freeman is good, as always, creating a vastly intelligent man who meets Lucy and is drawn back into the boyish sense of wonder that probably got him interested in science to begin with. It’s fun to watch him stare in awe at Lucy as she does her telekinetic thing and the actor is charming as ever. Min-sik is a typical, vicious drug lord character but, does it well, as does Amr Waked who presents a noble policeman in his Del Rio, a cop who gets drawn into being Lucy’s ‘partner’. When dealing with a silly story like this, a solid cast goes along way in getting us to buy it, at least until the movie is over and we start thinking about it… but, by then it’s too late, we’ve had a fun time.
So, overall I liked Lucy. It’s outrageously ridiculous but, Besson knows it and keeps things moving fast and furious enough to keep us from thinking too much about it. It’s colorful, crazy and filled with a lot of action and SPFX and with a strong turn by Scarlett Johansson who really has come into her own with her performances in recent flicks like Don Jon, Her and Under The Skin. Sure when it sinks in, you realize what a dumb movie it is, but, for the rapid-fire 90 minutes that it’s blasting it’s action and imagery at you, it’s a bloody fun popcorn flick that knows exactly how ridiculous it is and runs with it. Overall, kinda forgettable?… maybe… a lot of fun?… yes, it is.