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Lucy – Movie Review

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Lucy – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

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Even in science-fiction, there needs to be an internal logic that makes sense within the world’s universe. The way elements are established in the X-Men films, for example, it becomes easy to buy into the super powers the various characters have. Lucy, on the other hand, gets sillier and sillier as it goes along and it all becomes rather unbelievable and eye-rolling. The whole project seems like an excuse to present some impressive special effects and give Scarlett Johansson an action vehicle. There is not taking something seriously and then there’s throwing all common sense out of the window.

From the onset, director/writer Luc Besson makes some strange filmmaking decisions. In the first twenty minutes, the editing will randomly cut to nature documentary footage just to make the animal-like symbolism obvious to the audience. Just as bizarrely will be scenes of Morgan Freeman’s scientist giving a university lecture just to establish the main plot point that drives the story. Straight-forward storytelling is sometimes all you need, especially with a film as simple as this one. However, once Lucy begins gaining her super powers, Besson calms down on this technique. When her brain is at 20%, Lucy is quite interesting with the way she utilises her newfound intelligence without going too far into the realm of silly (though how she is able to walk freely through a hospital while holding a gun is questionable). There is also one of the few scenes of genuine character when she really starts to realise her newfound abilities, even as she kills people left and right. The script even incorporates humour well that fits Lucy’s current situation. Impressively, the movie takes advantage of its international locales by having a good 65% of the dialogue be subtitled. Chinese characters mostly speak Chinese and French characters mainly talk in their native tongue, rather than the movie feeling the need to translate everything into English, especially unnecessary with the rate the international film market is growing.

The more powers Lucy accumulates from the brain drug, the more silly this film  becomes. Hyper-fast reading and quick typing is easy to believe, even hearing from far-off distances. Changing one’s hair colour with your mind? Creating invisible walls? Tapping into somebody’s memory with your hands? Maybe those kinds of abilities are believable on Star Trek or in the Harry Potter series, but when this is portrayed in our world and only using one’s brain, it’s very far-fetched. At one point, Freeman’s character scoffs at these ideas as complete science-fiction and yet even in this genre entry, our reaction is not too dissimilar to his. There’s no rhyme or logic to Lucy’s brain functions. Of course, the biggest problem is that scientists have already proven that humans do use a large percentage of their brains, not the mere 10% Dr. Freeman keeps lecturing about. The science of this film is already a load of balderdash and Besson just takes that to preposterous levels.

Scarlett Johansson does fine in the title role, though the script does not require much from her. She mainly acts stoic and unemotional throughout the movie with the special effects doing the rest. While they are ridiculous, the effects team has a lot of fun with the powers and the there is even a surprising amount of wire work involved. Even the car chases, while haphazardly edited, obviously took a lot of planning and construction. Any other character in Lucy is just there for plot convenience. The French policeman Lucy befriends is not entirely necessary after one scene, which he himself points out. The villains are generic mobsters, whose only directions seem to be to point and shoot. Morgan Freeman is asked to do his usual acting work, even narrating over stock footage at one point. Otherwise, anybody could have been asked to play what is a fairly minor role. However, to be entirely honest, nobody is going to see this film for the performances.

Watching Lucy, one cannot help but think this material would be better served as a Japanese anime. Mamoru Oshii, the director of Ghost in the Shell, would have done wonders with this concept and the crazy imagery would have been well-served by a medium that thrives on it. In its current live-action incarnation, Lucy is extremely implausible and while playing around with science has resulted in some fun and thought-provoking sci-fi over the years, this really pushes the limits of suspension of disbelief. Take away the strong visual effects and there is nothing under the surface and when even the ridiculous theories it presents have already been debunked, there is not much else to latch onto. This film is mindless in more ways than one.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison