Luc Besson’s Lucy is a modern day sci-fi movie, reminiscent of 2011’s Limitless but with Scarlett Johansson as the puissant protagonist. Lucy is an innocent victim, forcefully caught up in the international drug smuggling game, co-ordinated by violent mobster Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik). However, the smuggle does not go smoothly, and large amounts of a very new, very potent drug leaks into Lucy’s bloodstream.
This is where it hits its sci-fi stride, as Lucy discovers the drug enables her to unlock more than the 10% of human cognitive capacity established by the filmic science. As the film progresses, more and more of Lucy’s neurons are activated as she races against her deteriorating health, with the mobsters in hot pursuit, attempting to pass on the knowledge of life and the universe that she has accrued due to her new omniscience.
Whilst the film’s premise is certainly interesting, it’s not quite executed to the potential of its full capacity. Lucy‘s strong and promising opening, including intercuts with footage of wild animals amidst the characters’ actions, draw nice parallels to the primitive side of human nature. However, this is where any secure link to scientific theory falls apart.
Far from creating a believable basis to secure the film upon, the effects of the drug on Lucy’s abilities are merely superficially explored, being brushed over with a pallet of even poorer visual effects. This leaves an empty gap in the plot, ultimately making the film feel less like sci-fi and more absurd.
However, the likeable luxuries on show in Lucy are most prominently the performances. Johansson does remarkably well when switching her character from believably emotional damsel in distress prior to her drug intake, to a stoic, calm and detached damsel causing distress, in a highly demanding role that the actress owns and achieves amiably.
It’s always a difficult feat to successfully pull off humans who have lost humanity, and have to remain sympathetic to the audience so as not to become farcical. Michael Fassbender’s enthralling portrayal of android David in 2012’s Prometheus was one such recent example, and now Johansson has managed it in Lucy.
Morgan Freeman’s performance almost goes without praise due to his reliable consistency, yet again delivering an authoritative supporting role to complement the core of the narrative. The actor suits the part of theoretical scientist and professor Samuel Norman like green on grass.
A well-respected researcher whom hypothosises of evolutionary utilisation of the brain’s full potential, Norman’s newfound awareness of Lucy gives Freeman the range to flaunt both his whimsically wisdomess voice and sense of intrigue in the main character. Even so, both leads were far from used to the best of their abilities, with Besson’s direction of them standing out as a major flaw in the film.
Despite its shortcomings, if you can suspend belief in tandem with the plot’s foundational demise, or if you enjoy more clichéd sci-fi films in a lighthearted or kitschy manner, then Lucy may be an enjoyable experience to watch.
Far from creating a believable basis to secure the film upon, the effects of the drug on Lucy’s abilities are merely superficially explored
Having the pace and feel of a thriller or action film, some of the fight scenes add to the atmosphere of a summer blockbuster, but it is, unfortunately, quite a forgettable one. It’s hard not to leave the cinema feeling that with some better writing and direction, the premise of the film could well have gone beyond 10% of its potential capacity.