Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Frenchman Luc Besson has been known for writing some really cool films and some pretty awful ones. His first hit was the awesome La Femme Nikita; he also made The Fifth Element, which is so cheesy it circles back to cool. We have him to thank for writing the mildly entertaining Transporter flicks, and we have him to blame for last year’s stinker The Family. Lucy, unfortunately, is another less-than-stellar show.
It starts out with a whiz-bang premise that gets even better in the first 20 minutes. Then, it starts to droop and sink under combined weight of pretention and cliché. Even the amazing visuals cannot stop its devolution into a preachy flick punctuated by pointless violence and shoot-outs.
Lucy (Johansson) is an American expat traipsing around Taiwan. A bad run-in with a jerk boyfriend traps her into delivering a shipment to local drug lords. The gangsters knock her out, surgically put a bag of drugs into her body cavity, and send her to Paris. Unfortunately her super-drugs leak, and she slowly becomes a god – a super-powered superhero whose conscience is opening up to all the knowledge in the universe as the thugs chase her down.
The first indication that this will be a bad trip is the clunky voiceover by Morgan Freeman, a scientist who hypothesizes about evolution like Lucy’s. Of course, this is all awkwardly tied to the famous prehuman fossil found in Africa. Lucy also has a lot of gratuitous shots of animals copulating and hunting down prey.
Besson supposes to argue something grand about the nature of humans and humanity. However, he’s couched his speechifying in the middle of a stereotypical drug thriller.
The biggest problems, though, are the gargantuan plot holes. In fact, they are so shockingly huge that they completely swallow up the rest of the film. If everyone knows how Lucy was made, why can’t they make another to battle her? If she can do anything (after a point) why doesn’t she have control over herself? Why can’t she just kill the bad guys early on? (This should be no problem, as she becomes a heartless, all-knowing being.)
More to the point, what the Hell has given Besson the right to preach to us about our lives?
There’s not much the actors can do with Besson’s sermon. Johansson’s character goes from being a trashy party girl to an unfeeling sentient force; neither of those characters makes us care a lick about her journey. Freeman is only required to spout scientific theory and look wide-eyed and amazed.
Two elements raise this from complete garbage: the initial concept and the all-encompassing visuals. Besson would’ve actually made a better film if he’d gotten rid of the “why we are here” hokum. The product would’ve been even more clichéd, but at least it wouldn’t have collapsed under its combined weight of pretentiousness and untenable ridiculousness.