Lucy (2014)When the premise of a film is repeated so many times throughout its… More When the premise of a film is repeated so many times throughout its marketing campaign, the film lives or dies on how well that idea is explored within the movie. The great ones follow the idea to its very end, exploring every aspect of the 'what-if' scenario until there's no more ground to cover. Lucy is not one of those great ones. The first half of this movie is good. In fact, the first quarter of this movie is really good. But after that, the film begins to stumble and it never really recovers from its fall. The film is based on the premise that humans only use 10% of our brain's available capacity and asks what would happen if we were able to access that other 90%. It's an interesting premise, despite the fact that it has no basis in reality, and our path to answering that question brings us to the titular character, Scarlett Johansson's Lucy. After being tricked into becoming an international drug mule, Lucy's brain is awakened when the package inside her body is broken and the drug is unleashed on her system. So far so good. And it really is. Up until about this point and even for a few scenes afterwards, Lucy is engaging, fun and thrilling with some not-unexpectedly fantastic direction from Luc Besson. But the wheels begin to come off the story pretty soon and they're never put back on. By the time the final act rolls around, it's not so much that events aren't making sense, but there's no sense of urgency here, no actual stakes to care about. In fact, it feels more as if the filmmaking team simply ran out of story, like a train suddenly reaching the end of the track before its destination. The point where the film finishes feels more like the point where we should be gearing up for the actual ending which should take all these ideas and rules set up within this world and propel us into the film's finale. Instead, we get credits. It feels like a cheat. And it doesn't feel like a clever cheat designed to make the audience think or to subvert some filmmaking rule, it simply feels like someone's closed the book and told you that it's the end when you can clearly see there's still a hundred pages they haven't yet read. And it's especially frustrating because of the practically limitless nature of the world the film had created. Lucy is given power over electronics, magnetic fields, people, time, objects, all information; basically everything. And yet she spends the last act sitting in a chair while a fairly conventional shootout goes on just outside. When we do see her in action, it's fantastic. Lucy sends men flying with a flick of her wrist, disarms weapons with a glare, suspends people in mid-air as they desperately throw punches at her. It's funny and cool and everything that you would hope a person with control over most matter could do. There's a car chase during the film which stacks up as some of the best action that Luc Besson has ever done, deftly blending left-field humour with madcap action and sci-fi coolness. And yet, it feels like such a waste by the time the credits roll around. Enough talking about what might have been though. What is there is a fantastic performance once again from Scarlett Johansson. Her Lucy is another in an ever-increasing list of wonderful creations and yet again shows why she's one of the go-to action actresses at the moment. The shift in her performance from terrified and out-of-her-depth human Lucy to the unfeeling, unflinching, god-like Lucy is remarkable and carefully calculated. The way she shows the ever-increasing gap between her original personality and the detached, barely human one we get at the end is fantastic and fascinating to watch. She carries the film easily and it's a credit to her performance that so much of it is as engaging and thrilling as it is. She makes you feel every moment in those terrifying opening minutes and is completely absorbing as she exacts her cold revenge later on. The other big name on the poster is Morgan Freeman, but his character is really only there to inform us of the film's basic premise and then as a glorified exposition consultant. There's nothing particularly amazing here from performer or the role but Freeman's innate likeability and charm do a great deal for making constant exposition feel at least a little engaging. Beyond these two there is Amr Waked of Syriana and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen as police office Pierre Del Rio, a man Lucy tasks with helping her and as her "reminder." This character, however, just ends up pointing the glaring absence of a real conclusion to Lucy's story. At a certain point, Del Rio tells Lucy that she should probably just go on her own. "I'm obviously no help to you," he points out as he gestures to the room full of men Lucy has just incapacitated with a few motions of her hand. "Yes you are," she tells him. "How?" "A reminder," she says, and kisses him. It's a jarring inclusion and one that's never really returned to. The same way Lucy laments that she's losing everything that makes us human, but then never fights for that humanity when she begins to leave it behind in earnest. It's frustrating to see that these ideas are not only present, but actively mentioned before being so quickly forgotten and barely explored. Luc Besson has been blending action, sci-fi themes and humour in his own unique way for some time now and his films such as La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element are both fantastic examples of that. Here he brings that same eye to bear and while some touches may lack any level of subtlety at all, you can see his unique vision all throughout the film. It's definitely good to see him back behind the camera, despite how disappointing it is that his first film in years lacks the ambition to match his skill. Defining Scene: That car chase.
29 days ago via Flixster