UK Release Date: 22nd August 2014
Runtime: 89 minutes
Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt
Synopsis: When she accidentally consumes a huge amount of a new drug, a young woman is able to gain access to the full 100% of her brain’s capacity.
French auteur Luc Besson doesn’t have a reputation for subtlety. His films are heavily stylised, utterly barmy and often pretty terrible. Thankfully, he has hit on something remarkably interesting with Lucy – showcasing the red hot Scarlett Johansson on top form as she continues her fantastic 2014.
Lucy (Johansson) is duped by her boyfriend into delivering a drug shipment to crime boss Mr Jang (Choi Min-sik). When she is roughed up by Jang’s minions, the drug leaks inside her stomach. The hyper-concentrated dose allows Lucy to access the full 100% of her brain capacity, allowing Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) to see his hypothetical research made real.
In a world full of blockbusters that prioritise grimy, moody introspection over entertainment, Lucy is a real breath of fresh air. It embraces the inherent stupidity of its concept and allows all hell to break loose, throwing even its own warped internal logic out of the window.
| "Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge."
At the centre of it all is an absolutely captivating performance from Scarlett Johansson. She is one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood right now, balancing blockbuster commitments (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) with other-worldly indie roles (Her and Under the Skin). Lucy might be her best performance this year, providing the perfect platform for her talents.
She perfectly portrays the diminishing humanity of her character, utilising the slightly alien feel she used so well in Under the Skin. There’s something about Johansson that marries the usual and the unusual perfectly to unsettle her audience. It’s a scintillating performance. Given some of the fast-talking sci-fi jargon she pulls off here, she sets out a stall worthy of the first female Doctor Who lead, if she ever fancies a break from dominating Hollywood.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast fare less well. Morgan Freeman is lumbered with reams of dull exposition to deliver and the excellent Choi Min-sik – best known for the original Oldboy – is given very little to do as the menacing central villain.
| "We’ve codified our existence to bring it down to human size – to make it comprehensible."
Lucy is at its best when it gets bonkers. Besson shows his trademark flair for action, with some brilliantly inventive set pieces involving Lucy’s powers. A car chase through Paris is absolutely heart-stopping thanks to the brilliant juxtaposition of Johansson’s deadpan and the hysteria of Amr Waked as a local cop.
The climactic set piece is perhaps a step too far as Besson channels Kubrick’s 2001 with a bizarre psychedelic trip that boggles the mind even as it excites the senses. It’s the perfect metaphor for Lucy as a whole – nothing makes sense, but the insanity couldn’t be more compelling.
Pop or Poop?
As well as featuring probably the only animal sex montage in a 2014 summer tentpole, Lucy is a fantastic blockbuster.
Scarlett Johansson cements her position at the summit of Hollywood, practically daring Marvel to make the solo Black Widow movie that everyone wants to see.
The supporting cast fare less well and Luc Besson gets a little caught up in his own ambition, but Lucy is a film that is the perfect marriage of intelligence and stupidity.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.