I love Luc Besson movies, at least, most of them. He did the original La Femme Nikita, The Professional, The Fifth Element, The Messenger, and was the producer/writer behind Kiss of the Dragon, The Transporter, District B13 and Unleashed (which also featured Morgan Freeman).
His movies tend to be fast and slick action movies, with a little bit of thinking on top. Lucy has that trademark, but really overdoes the thinking bit.
Lucy tells the story of a young woman who seems to be a student in Asia, doing a lot of partying and hanging with a sketchy dude. The dude wants her to carry a suitcase into a hotel, ask for Mr. Jang, and hand it over. She attempts this, but instead gets snatched by Jang’s men who cut her open and stuff a bag of a new drug into her belly – along with the bellies of three other random dudes. They plan to use them as drug mules. While in holding before her flight, one of her captors kicks Lucy in the abdomen, causing the bag to rupture, and the drug to start leaking into her system. Since the drug is similar to the drug in the movie Limitless and expands the percentage of the brain that can be used, Lucy starts getting some interesting side effects. It begins with her not feeling any pain, and suddenly having memories that go all the way back to infancy. As the drug works through her system, and she goes from the 10% we all use to 20% to 40%, and so on, she begins to be able to control her own cells, then control other people, then begin to … time travel?
- Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Lucy – I just wish the awesome that was there in the beginning was maintained through the movie. Nearing the end, she spends a lot of time just sitting in a chair and staring out into space with a blank look on her face.
- Morgan Freeman place Professor Norman, a neuroscientist who Lucy finds and instantly reads all his research. Apparently if you could use 20% of your brain, you could read really fast, and remotely appear on people's hotel TVs - because brainpower and electricy. He essentially gets all the exposition in this movie, but really, if you have Morgan Freeman, why not use him for that. He really does narrate the end. His narration at the beginning takes the form of him lecturing to a class about the brain. As this happens, the movie intercuts stock footage, in a really interesting bit of editing.
- Min-sik Choi, a Korean actor with lots of experience in Korean movies, plays Mr. Jang. He’s vicious, he’s angry, and he’s very serious about getting his drugs back. He’s also very upset when Lucy interrupts his tattoo appointment to stab him in the hands. He then hunts her for the rest of the movie.
- Egyptian actor Amr Waked, who was in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, plays French Police Captain Pierre Del Rio. Lucy enlists his help to take down the other mules, and then to collect the drugs and track down the professor.
- Julian Rhind-Tutt (you’d recognize him if you saw him – he was the partner in Keen Eddie, and if you haven’t seen any Keen Eddie – rent that now) shows up very briefly to explain what Mr. Jang is all about and what the plan is. Basically, more exposition, which someone else had to do, because it’s not like Morgan Freeman can explain the drug dealer’s plan.
- Pilou Asbaek plays the sketchy dude Richard who gets Lucy involved in this mess. He doesn’t last long.
The movie has a great premise, and Scarlett Johannsen is the perfect actress for it. I really enjoyed the beginning, where she was just beginning to use her powers, but as the movie progresses, she does less and less. I liked the bit with her seeing cell phone signals, being able to pick one out, then listen in to that conversation - even though I am not sure I buy that increased brain power would allow you to do that.
The finale taking place as she sits in a chair - seriously, she's in that chair for what feels like 20 minutes. The final 30% (as she goes from 70% to 100%) results in us being treated to seeing what Lucy sees, which turns out to be various moments through history, plus a great deal of space scenes (just colorful nebulas and random stars - and then what seems to be the destruction of the earth, and space jellyfish...seriously). She even has a moment where she connects with the ‘Lucy’ that is regarded as one of the earliest forms of human (because that was mentioned earlier). She does do all this while sitting in the aforementioned chair, and staring off into the distance with a blank look on her face. And while it is interesting, and prompts you to think about the philosophical implications of us using all of our brainpower, honestly, it is a little boring in a movie. That's more the subject of a NOVA special on PBS. In a Luc Besson movie, I would have preferred the final act to be more action-y. She gets out of control, and it takes the army to bring her down. Like Chronicle, or something like that. Instead, she sits in her chair and turns into a supercomputer - spoiler alert. It would have been cooler, movie-wise, to see her continuing to use more and more increasingly amazing powers. Oh well, I suppose I can consider that while sitting in this chair, and staring blankly off into space.
6 out of 10 – Lost points for the end being too long and boring. Gained points for the cool stuff at the beginning. Simultaneously gained and lost points for the airplane sequence. It was cool – but did she really disintegrate? And if she did, did chewing the drugs bring her back? With all the other exposition scenes in this movie, we don’t have one for this bit of craziness? And what the hell with doubling her hand? That could have played out more interestingly.
Bonus Video 1: Keen Eddie - rent this series now.
Bonus Video 2: Fifth Element - one of the best movies ever.
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews