There are going to be a lot of people wanting to know what kind of hallucinogens writer/director Luc Besson was on when he came up with Lucy. This is one bonkers movie, filled with enough sci-fi concepts for an entire series and just enough grisly action to get by during its sub-ninety minute runtime. It has lofty goals and ideas that are not always fleshed out, but are also never hurting in entertainment value. Audiences will surely be divided, likely by those that can’t get past the junk science and those that can.
After getting double-crossed by a “friend” and captured with the intent of serving as a mule for a powerful drug runner (Choi), Lucy (Johansson) finds herself with a pouch full of a potent new narcotic implanted in her abdomen. When the pouch bursts and her body starts absorbing its powdered contents, Lucy’s brain power begins to rise at an exponential rate. Soon she has otherworldly abilities – just what she needs to take revenge on her captors.
This premise is, of course, based upon the myth that humans only use 10% of their brain. According to the film, usage of 40% brain power could allow one person to control another, attain ESP, and more. It may be ridiculous, but as a plot device it works pretty well. Besson keeps things moving at a steady pace, with the final 50% of Lucy’s evolution taking place in film’s berserk final act. Lucy isn’t quite the straight-up action film that the trailers suggest. Besson takes on, to some degree, the ramifications of a person becoming all-knowing. Scarlett Johansson, in a largely subdued and twitchy performance, carries the day as a woman who wants to do good with her newfound knowledge. It adds extra depth to the movie, even if her brutally violent actions don’t make much sense. You’d think a higher being would find more sophisticated methods of doling out revenge than spraying a room with gunfire.
But one could pick apart the finer points of Lucy all day long. It all comes down to entertainment value, and the film delivers on that front. Besson makes use of some outstanding, particle-based visual effects and the final thirty minutes are an absolute trip. Buying in is key, and that will vary from person to person. One thing Lucy is not, however, is the kind of movie where anyone will be saying, “but it was so realistic up until…”
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 89 Minutes
Rating: R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality.
Theatrical Release: July 25, 2014
Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt