Movie review: Lucy directed by Luc Besson


Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a pretty, careless student on a grant in an unspecified Asiatic country (China?  Korea? Taiwan? Wikipedia claims it’s Taiwan but I am sceptical). She tries not to waste too much time on study and such inanities – she drinks, takes drugs, parties and picks up guys, the normal stuff. After one wild party her current admirer, Richard, asks her for a small favour: she has to deliver a silvery suitcase to a hotel lobby for a man called Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik). Easy-peasy.

When Lucy, not the stupidest girl around despite her lifestyle, smells something fishy Richard even promises to split his fee and give her 500 dollars, a quite exuberant sum for maximum one- two minutes of bother. Still, with Richard’s persistency Lucy grows more and more wary so her boyfriend simply slaps a handcuff on her wrist, attaching the suitcase to her hand, and leaves poor girl no other choice than to deliver it, hoping that Mr. Jang will have the key and will be willing to uncuff her. As you can guess from this point everything goes downwards – for Lucy, the Korean mafia, Richard, science and the world at large. Damn, even for humanity.

Mr. Jang proves to be a dangerous  mobster and a drug lord; the suitcase our unhappy heroine was forced to fetch him contains four bulky packets of a new, experimental drug, CPH4, allegedly incredibly potent (bah, of course it must be potent, it is blue!). Now Lucy and three other Caucasian ‘volunteers’ are forced to smuggle the packets to four different European countries. The packets are promptly and professionally sewn in the lining of their stomachs; then the gangsters ensure that their accidental couriers  know that they will be closely watched. Bonne chance and bon voyage!

Of course Lucy is different –  she is the only woman in the group and a student so, allegedly, a more than averagely intelligent human being. Before the departure of her plane she is transferred to a kind of concrete hideout and there, after a vigorous kick or two from one of the brutal thugs who wanted to rape her (but somehow they didn’t, go figure), her packet breaks and the drug enters her system. As her brain is being slowly switched on Lucy starts a different kind of a journey, nothing that her Asiatic ‘employers’ intended her to experience. And now she will dictate the terms – because she is smarter. A lot smarter.

My impressions:

I like Luc Besson’s contemporary fairy tales – they are always fast-paced, amusing, often mentioning very important issues to boot. What not to like? Even Scarlett Johansson wasn’t able to deter me from watching ‘Lucy’. I admit it, the ride was exhilarating but still, several times during the movie I went into the ‘what? No way!’ mode which means that I my disbelief didn’t want to suspend itself.

I grant it: there were some great scenes in this one, like the car chase in Paris, something like a hallmark of Luc Besson movies, the mesmerizing time-turning sequence at the end and, overall, computer-generated images showing the spread of the new drug inside Lucy’s body. I also liked the idea of illustrating Lucy’s feeling by intermingling the suitcase delivery scene with shots of  wild cheetahs hunting gazelles on African savannahs. It was very ingenious and original. However right afterwards the director lost all the kudos he’d won as the plot became illogical. Even a bit stupid.

First at all I didn’t understand why Lucy wasn’t guarded better after having that precious package sewn inside her body. Was it so difficult to issue a ‘do not touch’ order? When she was attacked I almost gasped – not because it was overly brutal but because it didn’t make sense. Even an idiot could tell a kick might rupture the plastic bag inside her belly (as it did) and then the precious drug would be lost forever.

Then you have a girl who accidentally absorbs a huge dose of a new, experimental drug, just about to be released on the market, and, quite miraculously, survives. Nobody knows such a drug exists at all, apart from the interested parties of course. Now suddenly a drug sniffer dog on the airport reacts to Lucy. I ask: how come? This dog couldn’t possibly have any idea how the new drug would smell, could it? So why did it react? Just so you can watch Lucy use her super-human powers?

As I’ve already mentioned those super-duper brain powers of Lucy I have to say they were…puzzling to say the least of it. Ok, I get it: the girl is expanding the usage of her brain in leaps and bounds but why has she to lose her sense of humour in the process? Her face remains immobile, quite robotic even, for most of the movie. Did she look intelligent? Hardly. She cannot feel pain as well – a step no functional brain would take easily. Controlling pain is another matter but switching it off completely is a very unwise and counterproductive decision. Also some of Lucy’s choices I would call highly controversial: she doesn’t hesitate to kill an anonymous patient undergoing a surgery in a hospital (‘he wouldn’t have survived anyway’ she proclaims coolly after having a look at his MRI scans) but she has some problems with eliminating a very dangerous and criminally inclined drug lord who has a lot of blood on his hands; mind you she lacks neither the opportunity nor the weapons. Sorry, if it is an example of  ‘super human’ decision making then I prefer the older, ‘worse’ version. The argument that Mr. Jang as the main baddie was simply needed further in the plot doesn’t impress me either.

By the way the activity-of-just-10%-of-brain myth, propagated in this movie, is nothing more than a widely spread urban legend. It claims that most or all humans only make use of10% (or some other small percentage) of their brains and the rest remains dormant or ‘switched off’. It has been misattributed to many people, including Albert Einstein, and it has been refuted ever since. Still plenty of people claim it is true – it only shows how we love simplifying complex notions. Still in this movie those notions are simplified by the leading scientists, go figure.

Finally my biggest carping: when Lucy is interviewed by an old, wise professor specializing in human brain (Morgan Freeman who actually believes we use only 10% of our brain so he loses all his credentials instantly lol) and asked to describe her new goals she tells him she would like to expand her knowledge in such areas as applied mathematics, quantum physics, chemistry and IT. She never mentions music, art, poetry, languages, philosophy or literature, in other words humanities. It made me wonder instantly whether at least one part of her brain remained firmly switched off, drug or no drug.

Final verdict:

Enthusiastically silly. Logically flawed. Mindless and mixed up. Propulsive and fun. Pseudo-intellectual. In other words not an action flick you shouldn’t miss but also a movie which might entertain you during one of those long, winter evenings. Keep your disbelief firmly suspended and you’ll be fine.  By the way I really have enough of Scarlett Johansson being casted as a super human being/an alien.

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11 Responses to Movie review: Lucy directed by Luc Besson

  1. blodeuedd says:

    Hm…I just do not wanna see it. I do not know why

  2. carolerae20 says:

    I just don’t like Scarlett Johansson. She is seriously over-rated. IDK. Maybe someday I shall attempt this film.

    • I agree with you completely – Scarlett is overrated. Still such movies as The Girl with a Pearl Earring or Lost in Translation were worth watching even if she starred there so I learned to grit my teeth..

  3. Melfka says:

    When the movie trailers came out, I thought I really want to see the movie. Then it hit the cinemas and first reviews appeared, and my enthusiasm waned. I still might watch it, one day, on dvd or Netflix, if I remember about it (same happened to me with “Transcendence” and will probably happen with “Ex Machina”).
    I don’t mind Scarlet Johansonn as a superhuman/alien. Compared to Zoe Saldana she’s not overused at all in sci-fi productions… 😉

    • LOL Scarlett is still 10 or 15 movies short of Zoe Saldana bur recently she’s been working really hard to bridge that difference. Simply borrowing this movie is the best solution I suppose, providing you want to watch it in the first place. Well, some sequences were worth watching after all so I didn’t feel I wasted my time completely. It was certainly better and more enjoyable than ‘Gone Girl’.

  4. heidenkind says:

    I’m not a big fan of Scarlet Johansen, either. The only movie I liked her in was Midnight In Paris, and that was because she was SUPPOSED to be annoying. That said I do want to watch this marginally more than She, so maybe someday I shall.

    Btw, what’s your favorite Luc Besson movie?

    • You mean movies directed by Besson, not written or produced by him?

      My Besson adventure started with The Big Blue (1988), an excellent movie about a freediver; excellent mainly because Luc Besson himself wanted to follow that career but, after a diving accident at 17, he couldn’t. BTW both his parents were scuba diving instructors at Club Med so he understood that milieu perfectly. Then I fell for Leon the Professional (1994) and then came The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010). I am not sure which of these I like the best. It sometimes depends on my mood.

  5. rameau says:

    But…but… Black Widow film? She has to be in that one.

    Other than that, I’m pretty sure you put more thought into this film than its makers.

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