Title: LucyDirector: Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbaek, Analeigh Tipton, Nicolas Phongpheth
Plot: When Lucy (Johansson) is tricked into becoming a drug mule by her boyfriend, she soon finds herself at the mercy of Korean mob boss Mr. Jang (Min-Sik) as she has a bad of the synthetic drug CPH4 sewn inside her. However when the bag begins leaking the drugs into her system she soon finds her physical and mental capabilities being increased
Review: Why is it that Luc Besson never seems to get the kind of credit he deserves, so much so that when this film was released I had no idea it was even a Besson film! This of course is only the more astounding when you look back at his early career not only as a key director of the “Cinema Du Look” movement but films like “Subway”, “Nikita” and “The Big Blue” let alone “Leon” all which saw him classed as one of the rock star directors like Quentin Tarantino. For some reason though his later films have lacked the bravado of his name being attached even though he has continued to direct exciting and visually arresting films.
“Lucy” doesn’t change the situation but what it does however is elevate a fairly simple idea by giving it a heavy dose of his visual style, while finding a great leading lady in Scarlett Johansson who here is clearly eager to prove she is more than one shot Marvel character, continuing the chain of interesting roles she has been playing even if she wasn’t Besson’s first choice having originally had Angelina Jolie in mind for the role only for her to drop out prior to filming and leaving Johansson to be cast instead. Besson at the same time here showing he clearly still having a thing for casting model style actresses in action roles as previously seen with the likes of Milla Jovovich, Lousie Bourgoin and Rie Rasmussen.
When we first meet Lucy she is the gullible and carefree American living and partying up in Taiwan and it’s fascinating to see her go from being scared and fragile to seemingly discovering her inner badass once she receives a dose of the synthetic drugs in her system, which constantly increase her cerebral capacity the increasing percentage being marked by title cards while intercut by a lecture being given by Morgan Freeman’s Professor Norman as he explains the possibilities and changes each percentage increase opens up. So what starts with increased responses and fighting abilities soon turn into psychic abilities as she is able to toss enemies aside and manipulate radio waves, before finally venturing into god like territory. True by the end things get more than alittle silly with Besson going for what could be best described as his “2001: A Space Odyssey” ending yet somehow despite these increasingly super abilities that Lucy is gaining you never get the same feeling of pretension that we got when the Wachowski’s attempted to turn The Matrix’s Neo into a techo-Jesus.
At the same time Besson is keen to show that such rapid evolution is not without its costs, with Lucy’s body at one point seemingly vaporising before randomly turning up later and unexplainably in a hospital bed. We also get to see her spit up a handful of teeth after one of these evolutionary jumps reminding us that while she might be gaining a number of superhuman abilities her body is still very much mortal and not designed for such sudden changes and requiring Lucy to take more of the drug which caused these changes to handle the changes.
Due to these lecture sequences Besson gets away with many of the far-fetched moments of the film especially when Lucy starts entering the higher percentages as theories are tossed about with even Professor Norman admitting that he can’t really understand what is happening to here as his work is all based in theory. At the same time when the tone of the film is kept so light and fun its hard to question what is happening in the film especially when Besson is making it so entertaining to watch happen. Equally you can see throughout that in many ways he is trying to make a film with elements of “Leon” as once more he crafts a number of impressive action scenes such as high speed car chase through Paris which ends with multiple cop cars being flipped through to the police versus gangsters hallway shootout which is reminisant in many ways of the finale of “Leon” which with its moments of slow motion and stray bullets decimating a statue really elevate this above being another dumb action movie, as Besson like John Woo proves that even the most blunt material can still be elevated even if it’s the type of scene we have seen done numerous times before.
Johansson unquestionably owns this film while continuing to prove herself capable to handling the action sequences even if Lucy has little in the way of any kind of emotional depth, as she becomes cold and detached when she starts to change from the effect of the drugs while Freeman is here to essentially provide some fun narration of sorts as he’s hired once more it seems for those silky vocals than anything particularly strenuous acting wise. Elsewhere Choi Min-sik no doubt known to most as the lead in “Oldboy” really is one of Besson’s best villians and more than on a par with Gary Oldman’s corrupt DEA agent in “Leon” and Tcheky Karyo’s equally corrupt detective in “Kiss of the Dragon” even if he isn’t as quick to anger as either of those characters, his quiet ruthlessness and little regard for human life ensures that he is just as memorable.
While this film is fun for its runtime, its ending does however mean that it does in some ways fee like it has jumped the shark, as Besson seemingly implies that by reaching 100% that Lucy in some way ascends to a god like status in a scene which comes off feeling like Besson just wanted an excuse to cram in a brief history of time style footage while at the same time not being sure quite how to end the film as seen by Lucy becoming a bio-supercomputer….atleast I think that’s what it was supposed to be anyway. That aside this is still an entertaining film which plays largely like a more action orientated version of "Limitless" while reminding us once again why Besson is still a director of note.