Friday, 29 August 2014

Lucy


Well, that certainly didn't go the way it looked from the trailers...

"Lucy" stars the wonderful Scarlett Johansson as Lucy, a young women who unlocks the powers hidden in her brain when she is used as a drug mule by a Korean crime lord.

Scarlett Johansson has become on of my favourite actresses these days. Apart from her striking good looks, she has not only shown herself to be very capable of kick-ass action (Come on Marvel, where is that Black Widow movie?), but lately has come out with some amazing displays of acting prowess as well. "Lucy" tries to unite those two qualities of her, actually ditching her good looks at some points. Which is part of Johanssons appeal, because she is willing to do that kind of thing, which is rare.

Luc Besson has never really clicked with me, the last time he impressed as a director was "The Fifth Element" and that was 17 years ago. As a screenwriter, he has done some really cool stuff... and a lot of other stuff. "Lucy" is different from most things he has done, and I mention that solely because that is not touched upon in the marketing. I always find it annoying when that happens.

This movie is not as much of an action movie as you would think, it goes for some really philosophical themes, which is very interesting.

Writing this I find that I'm trying to get around mentioning the basic idea of the plot... because it sounds so stupid. It all revolves around the false assumption that humans use a mere 10% of their brain capacity. This has never been true, but it is a very resilient urban legend. "Limitless" had the same premise, but its interpretation is much closer to reality, in which it merely provides its protagonist with a massive boost of memory and perception. It also refrains from counting by percentage.

The process of unlocking Lucys mental potential in this movie has some remarkable side-effects, such as telekinesis and control of matter. The great question this movie asks is what happens when Lucy hits 100%. Speculating about this is Morgan Freemans character, who might as well be called Professor Exposition. Freeman has become something of a professional supporting character and is usually very enjoyable, but here I found that his role was completely mishandled.

Johansson does a good job at portraying a young woman who finds herself losing her humanity and gaining a new perspective on everything. The script works against her at times, because it refuses to let the action sequences go. Those are done well, but don't have any feeling of urgency, because noone is Lucys equal, there is no danger to her, that's how strong she is. This might have been better off as a drama.

Another thing that Besson should have embraced more is that Lucy effectively becomes a goddess. Yet, people shrug off her displays of immense knowledge and power like it's just the most normal thing in the world.

Be that as it may, there is still a lot to be liked about this. Besson shows what he's capable of and edges on experimental filmmaking, especially captivating in the opening scene, which splices Lucys run-in with the Korean mob with footage of mousetraps and predators hunting their prey. Johansson is great in this role, which shares some similarities with Samantha from "Her". And in general, the direction this movie is taking is very interesting, it just doesn't take it far enough.

Had this blended a little bit more religion with its science parts, "Lucy" might have been a great movie. As it is, it is ambitious but can't quite deliver all it promises. It still is a very enjoyable movie to watch.

Also, if you haven't already, check out Cinemartians review over here.

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