Lucy is a film from Luc Besson. Besson both wrote and directed the picture, whilst setting the majority of its action in his town of birth: Paris. Yet Besson fails to deliver on this vision.
Lucy is the story of a woman, who through a series of unfortunate events, becomes able to harness an ever-increasing percentage of her brain’s potential. This idea has been tampered with in the past, most recently in the Bradley Cooper/Robert De Niro flick Limitless. Though Lucy is far more fiction than science compared with Limitless, the films share several similarities. They both deal with how the subject handles both being with and without the stimulant and both have a violent conflict. Most strikingly however, both films star two lead actors whose fame alone would draw crowds despite these actors pulling average, at best, performances.
Lucy fails however in the sheer ridiculousness of its plot. There seems to be a very fine line between science fiction and utter lunacy: Lucy falls rarely into the former. Limitless limits the abilities Cooper inherits under the stimulant’s effect, whereas Besson seemingly decided to make his lead capable of anything he fancied directing. It seems that the further Lucy could delve into her mind, the further Besson’s imagination got away from him. Sporadic moments of dialogue addressing the indestructible nature of Johannson’s lead were not enough to redeem the lunacy of her ability. Theses weak attempts rather highlighted the point that the film had gone too far. At times I found myself audibly laughing at the sheer extravagance of the lead’s abilities.
I also found myself left bemused at the varying quality of the film’s visuals. Lucy seemed to save its budget for specific moments in the film, most of which were grouped around the climax. Early in the picture, a fair chunk of time was allocated to generic stock footage of nature and animals aimed at illustrating the most basic of scientific points. For example, the issue of cell reproduction was illustrated by multiple shots of animals engaging in intercourse and a further smattering of animal births. These images did not shock, nor engage, nor inform. They simply pushed the run time closer to the staple 90 minute mark.
These animal clips were replaced as the film went on with visual representations of Lucy’s enhanced abilities, but these were only a slight improvement. Seeing the energy movement through a tree was a visual bore, not only for its irrelevancy, but also for its lackluster appearence.
This film was not just ridiculous and visually-varied, but also lacked dialogue of any repute. Usually a film will not make you aware of the awkward nature of its dialogue but Lucy screamed it at you. Johansson could not redeem a script so full of holes that I was again left disappointed at what she had been given. From her declaration that she could taste her mother’s milk in her mouth to her heartfelt declaration to a mostly irrelevant male figure, Lucy’s dialogue was too present in the film for the wrong reasons.
Even Freeman did not come out unscathed. His crude rambling speculations about the abilities one would acquire at each percentage were basic, overly rounded and ridiculously accepted by his audience as gospel. Every fanciful claim that he made from his hypothesis was nodded along to by a dormant university crowd, with no question of how he had come to such a conclusion. This was made even more ludicrous by Johansson confirming everything he had conjured up to be solid fact.
However, the film has its strengths. I guess you could call it a ’90 minute action smash’ but only if you can ignore all of its previously mentioned flaws. Its action is generally good, if lacking originality. A strong car chase propped up the mid-picture lull but was at contrast to a needless attempted sexual assault and an unoriginal big bang bazooka blast. The action came in regular intervals between the grand nature of Besson’s brain power premise and made the film watchable. Another decent badass Johansson character provided enough guns and combat to satisfy any action urges and can cement her place as a credible action lead, if Marvel needed any further convincing.
However, the film was only fun in a mindless manner. To anyone wanting anything further, Lucy failed to deliver. A grand yet achievable premise was squandered by the film’s lack of limits. Besson’s vision and intentions are admirable, but unfortunately Lucy aimed a little high and a little to far off centre to create a picture worth seeing.