Sunday, August 31, 2014


LUCY is a very odd film. It's not exactly bad. It's not exactly good. There's a lot going on and you can't fault its ambition. It's just that it's a movie by Luc Besson which means that whenever there might be elegant moderation, there's a willingness to go too far.  And while it's all shot in a stylish and slick manner, it almost feels too stylised, as if there's nothing underneath.  The weird thing is that the movie borrows some of the themes of 2001 and seems to take them in earnest. Why does it feel absurd when our protagonist goes back in time to meet our ape ancestors and yet not absurd when Kubrick has apes fighting over a bone?  I guess there's just something too slippery about this film - too trying to be Tarantino with Kill-Bill revenge action - for us to take it seriously.

Anyways, back to the story. Scarlett Johanssen plays Lucy - a naive and carefree girl working in Taiwan. She's conned by her dope-running boyfriend into delivering a package to Choi Min-Sik's Korean gangster and in a serious of improbable but stylish scenes ends up as a drug mule with a weird MacGuffin-y embryo-fuelling enzyme in her belly.  The upshot is that she is getting really really brainy really really fast - to the point where we get giant roman numerals throughout the film telling us how far she's reached her maximum brain usage.  And when she gets to 100% she's going to die. Or turn into a massively powerful organic supercomputer that then falls in love with Joaquin Phoenix, or something.  

The first third of the film plays like a kind of abduction-revenge horror with a kind of Tarantino attitude to highly stylised action.  We then get into thriller territory as Lucy leaves Taiwan to track down the other drug mules in Europe, with the help of a credulous French cop. The final third of the movie starts out amazing, transforming into a genuinely quite profound sci-fi flick but then descends into 2001 pastiche.  

Overall, this is a film that is less than the sum of its many parts but I really did enjoy the parts I liked. I wonder just what it might have been with the same cast but a less flashy director.

LUCY has a running time of 89 minutes and is rated R.  The movie is on global release.

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