26 07 2014

Lucy” may well be the most peculiar movie of summer 2014.  Director Luc Besson strangely amalgamates high-brow ambitions with B-movie antics.  It amounts to a simple-minded film about big ideas, something far less than Besson achieved on “The Professional,” but I’d be lying if I didn’t have a decent amount of fun on the ride.

Clearly Besson feels more comfortable in the realm of the non-human, staging vibrantly kinetic car chases and action sequences with flashy visuals.  These sequences have a definite panache to them, which is good given that they largely have to power the entire film.

Besson keeps “Lucy” moving at a swift clip, so brisk that you almost don’t have time to think about how excruciatingly bad his inane dialogue is.  It’s obvious that he views words as means to the ends of expression and plot development, not ends in and of themselves.  Worst of all, these unimaginative lines are delivered by Scarlett Johansson and company with feeling equivalent to rote recitation, rendering the film’s human element unintentionally laughable.

The film’s editing could have used some work, too.  Besson begins the film by heavy-handedly intercutting animals and prey with the events of the story (a clumsy attempt to be artful).  Then, he cross-cuts an intellectual lecture given by a professor played by Morgan Freeman (an obvious ploy to be taken seriously on an intellectual level) between multiple scenes of Lucy.  If you think about it, the edit really makes no sense as it either has no sense of time … or Freeman’s Samuel Norman is giving the world’s longest address!


But the main point of “Lucy” is not to think, I suppose.  It’s a rather ironic position to occupy considering that its protagonist is discovering more potential in her brain while we’re supposed to use less.  Johansson’s Lucy, an unwitting mule for the synthetic drug CPH4, finds herself rapidly unlocking cerebral capacity after the compound leaks into her bloodstream.  With this enhanced capacity, she assumes all the ruthlessness of a Terminator trapped in the body of a Fembot from “Austin Powers.”

Following her inheritance the super-brain, the film takes a fast-paced, fast-motion journey with her as she attempts to evade capture and impart the knowledge she can provide for scientific research.  The road there is conventional, sure, but Besson ends “Lucy” on a note of such wildly bonkers ambition that I almost felt I needed to rethink the entire film.

Without saying too much, I can only describe the conclusion as Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” on speed.  Perhaps the final big bang surprised me so because there seemed to be little evidence “Lucy” was capable of such a herculean feat.  In an hour and a half, Besson alternates between being good and bad; his spectacular climax is just enough to push the film into the “good” column overall.  B-2stars



2 responses

26 07 2014

It’s a very strange movie. But it’s the type of strange I haven’t seen from Besson in quite some time and it made me happy to see once again. Especially after something as dreadful as the Family. Good review Marshall.

26 07 2014

Didn’t bother to see “The Family.” Although I didn’t notice this until seeing the production still I used in the review – look at the top right corner and you’ll see Besson sneakily promoting “The Family” in Times Square.

(Pedantic and unimportant side note: I did see ads for Francois Ozon’s “Jeune et Jolie” when Lucy was cruising the streets of Paris. Now there’s a movie that’s worth promoting, even within another movie!)

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