Lucy

Lucy photo starrating-4stars.jpgThe Plot: “Lucy wishes to be part of Ricky’s act at the club but he forbids it, so she disguises herself to get into the show.”

Of course I’m kidding.  That’s obviously a description of the very amusing 50s sitcom I Love Lucy.  However Lucy the movie, the latest sci-fi offering from director Luc Besson, is no less funny, but unintentionally so. Our heroine starts out as a blonde bimbo. An American woman who just wants to have fun while living and studying in Taipei, Taiwan. The gratuitous setting ostensibly for no other reason than it affords the cinematographer lots of cool shots of Taipei 101, which up until 2010, was the tallest building in the world. Her boyfriend, looking like a Bono wannabe with yellow wraparound shades and cowboy hat, is Danish actor Pilou Asbæk.  They’ve only been dating for a week. Now he’s tricked her into becoming a drug mule for his employer, a fearsome Korean gangster named Mr. Jang. Scenes of thugs congregating are awkwardly juxtaposed with nature footage of a cheetah stalking a gazelle on the African veld. Actor Choi Min-sik relishes his role. He shoots a guy for laughing. The way he strikes a paralyzing fear into the hearts of everyone around him is kind of amusing. Lucy is subsequently knocked out and a highly valuable synthetic pharmaceutical called CPH4 is placed in her stomach. The bright blue gravel looks like something with which you’d line an aquarium floor. While imprisoned, one of Lucy’s captors kicks her in the stomach causing the bag to leak which releases the mind enhancing superdrug into her system.

I suppose I can suspend disbelief and accept that this stimulant has crazy mind altering capabilities, but the drug is so potent, her aptitude qualifies as an unfair advantage. She has the powers of a god. Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) is introduced at this juncture giving a lecture on brain capacity to his students likewise bringing the audience up to speed as well. He explains that if humans could exceed beyond their mere 10% brain usage, they would either choose immortality or reproduction. A clip is shown of every species imaginable copulating at this point, just in case we’re unclear as to how animals get busy. Here’s about where the narrative really gets stupid, i.e. so ridiculous it‘s a joke. On each occasion her mental capacity expands, the screen goes black and a big white numerical percentage notifies us how much of her brain she is now using. We start at 10% then 20 on to 30 and so forth. As the movie plays out the numbers advance speedily the closer she nears 100%. She begins acquiring increasingly powerful mental talents and enhanced physical potential. She learns and retains huge amounts of data in seconds, absorbs information instantaneously, manipulates objects with her mind. Pain is essentially something she chooses not to feel. Did I mentions she has mastered time travel too?

Now omnipotent, she has a pretty significant advantage against her human antagonists. Her power is absolute but it‘s also laughable. Lucy contacts Professor Norman by manipulating electronics and incongruously appearing on the TV in his hotel room. At the hospital she mentally dismantles and entire room full of armed men with a wave of her fingers. At least she spares the one French policeman out to help her (Amr Waked). In a superhero movie it would take another all powerful entity to stop her, but here no one can possibly confront her abilities. In one particularly emblematic scene, a small army of combatants accost her down a hallway. With a few flicks of her wrist, the attackers are levitated. The thrill of an elaborately choreographed fight scene is neutralized in seconds. Crisis averted but so is the excitement.

Lucy is so ridiculously harebrained, that it becomes a compelling watch, like a train wreck. For about the first third of the film it’s a fairly straightforward woman in peril story. Once Scarlett Johansson ingests the narcotic and she begins to understand how to manipulate its benefits, the saga becomes a superhero movie without a legitimate antagonist. Scarlett Johansson morphs from a trembling airhead into an instinctual killing machine. Her voice becomes a robotic monotone to boot. Apparently only stupid people show emotion. I kept wondering when someone else would simply take the same drug so they could oppose her on the same level playing field. Alas no one seemed to figure that out. That lack of sense ironically accords with everything else in this loopy film. The script lazily sets up a far fetched premise without even trying to explain why it would work.

As her intellect grows so does the ludicrousness of the story. There’s a moment where Lucy pages through time with her hands like she’s playing a Dance Central video game. We watch her zip from Paris to New York’s Times Square as the site transforms through various eras. While wearing Louboutins and a sexy black mini, she ultimately has an awkward meet and greet in the Jurassic era with Lucy the Australopithecus.  Yes, I’m talking about the first hominid. Then they touch fingers like when God created Adam à la Michelangelo. I laughed so hard I cried. It’s an efficient little thriller too. The whole thing clocks in at just 90 minutes. A trippy dippy delight along the enjoyable nonsense of concoctions like Congo and Anaconda. Lucy is not good in the traditional sense, but it is hilariously nonsensical in spite of itself. This is pure camp and on that level, it qualifies as an entertaining movie.

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19 Responses to “Lucy”

  1. You forgot how the Asian’s as the bad guys was so cliché, like the Russians in the last (we hope) Die Hard. It w’s like two separate movies. Rent the male version Limitless instead. It is a much more thought out story.

    • I think my review makes it pretty clear that I embraced everything as a joke. I don’t uphold the characters as works of great art. It was the stupidity of it all that made it so amusing.

  2. “While wearing Louboutins and a sexy black mini, she ultimately has an awkward meet and greet in the Jurassic era with Lucy the Australopithecus. Yes, I’m talking about the first hominid. Then they touch fingers like when God created Adam à la Michelangelo. I laughed so hard I cried.”

    Whoa, thats awful. I laughed as well, just by reading your description.

  3. A very interesting take on a film that more often than note irritated me b/c of its lack of brains. But you managed to take that and get entertainment out of it. Wish I could have! I would probably have given it a 6 if looking at it from a classic camp kind of perspective. There certainly seemed to be a few times where camp was the only intention (i.e. those awkward nature shots cut between the current moment in Taipei), and Besson must’ve known how ridiculous this was going to get. Hence the ending. The ending was so bad!! lol

    • The ending might’ve been the best part. And by that I mean the most idiotic. It was so nice of her to leave a message too. “I AM EVERYWHERE.” #facepalm

  4. It’s a very silly movie, but it’s also quite fun. Which is something I haven’t been able to say about a Luc Besson movie in quite some time. Nice review Mark.

    • I don’t know if you consider Taken and The Transporter series Luc Besson films. Granted he didn’t direct them but he did write and produce them. They’re fun.

  5. martin250 Says:

    great review Mark. am not a big fan of Luc Bessons movies but i think he knows how to stage action sequences. Kiss of the Dragon is a movie that i enjoy watching. Nothing wrong with some well made “enjoyable nonsense”.

    Have not seen Lucy yet, but am very interested.

  6. The moment Lucy got infected by this drug, I saw her face and immediately got excited. She was gonna become this total badass. I was ready to love it. I couldn’t believe what happened. It turned into a bad, but hilarious, unintentional comedy. I should have hated this, but I didn’t. I liked it for the camp. 3 stars

    • The moment she got infected by the drug Lucy started shaking, then she moved up the wall and defied gravity. They could make a fortune in a secondary market to Cirque du Soleil performers.

  7. This sounds ridiculous… and awesome.

  8. Nice review. I really enjoyed this movie, and I liked how it related humans to other animals. I have a huge crush on Scarlett Johansson, and this was a really fun movie to watch her kick ass the whole time. Really creative, too, since I thought it’d be just like Limitless, given the premise about a drug that can open up the mind a lot. I liked how instead of the drug taking effect within 30 seconds like it did in Limitless, it gradually brought the brain from 10% to 20% to 30%, etc. Though I did think it kind of got lazy toward the end, except for the “I am everywhere” SMS.

    • Lucy is a powerful woman who is really tough and can handle herself in a fight. That description makes this somewhat of a distant cousin to Salt with Angelina Jolie.

  9. “Lucy is so ridiculously harebrained, that it becomes a compelling watch, like a train wreck.” – Well said. It kept my attention for that reason even though its whole premise that people use 10 percent of their brains has been debunked. It keeps raising the stakes to such ludicrous levels that you can’t help laughing. I thought it was funny that after a certain point, there didn’t seem to be much difference in her powers as she kept using a higher percentage of her brain. Plus the villain was so boring and I felt a complete absence of danger for her all-powerful character. Didn’t seem like anything could stop her. Hey, at least Luc Besson knows how to make a short movie. 90 some odd minutes felt just right.

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