Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
A strange thing happened in 2014. Out of left field, Scarlett Johansson established herself as a sci-fi star appearing in not one but three quirky, off-kilter genre films – Her, Under The Skin and Lucy.
Lucy is the latest film from Luc Besson and is the most unashamedly action oriented and light in tone out of the three. In it, Johansson plays the eponymous Lucy and with barely two minutes registered in the film’s running time, she finds herself unwittingly becoming a drug mule and is captured by an Asian mob boss named Mr Jang. Jang injects Lucy with a mysterious serum which triggers Lucy’s ability to use her brain capacity to its fullest extent. Basically, Besson has taken a colloquially known scientific ‘fact’ (which I have no idea whether its true or not) that human beings only use 10% of their brain capacity and imagined the potential for someone who unlocks the other 90%.
Lucy‘s tongue is planted firmly in its cheek. It made me laugh a lot and I believe that is Besson’s intention. The film is spliced with wildlife footage communicating Lucy’s transition from being a helpless antelope at the mercy of a pack of tigers to reversing the roles when she becomes an all power super human. To explain the ‘science’ behind the film, Besson casts Morgan Freeman as neurosurgeon and uses his Wise Old-Timey Voice in probably the most blatant typecasting of Freeman’s talents I’ve ever seen. Within half an hour, Lucy is breaking the laws of physics, shooting bad guys (and random civilians now that I think about it) and there are numbers and lights streaming across the screen like in The Matrix to communicate how techy and wired she is.
This is a very silly film and I think most people will know within a matter of minutes whether they’re buying what Besson is selling here. To her credit, I think Johansson delivers a performance in line with the OTT weirdness that this film revels in. She plays it straight and embraces the free wheeling storyline that is over in an appropriately tidy 90 minutes.
The final few moments in the film are astonishing. Some might say astonishingly bad but not I. I just imagine the film’s cinematographer and special effects team reading the screenplay and trying to wrap their heads around what happens. You want to do what now? How can we film that? How would you even begin to visually represent that on screen? It’s time-shifting, dimension crossing, mind melding madness rivals that of Interstellar.
Lucy is a creative, light heartened piece of escapism. It does everything it sets out to do and kept me entertained throughout.