Luc Besson has always tended towards strikingly different movies – “Leon the Professional” and “The Fifth Element” being cases in point… strange blue alien woman doing soprano opera anyone? “Lucy”, both written and directed by Besson, is probably a ‘Marmite’ (love it or hate it) sort of film, as whilst it delivers a solid sci-fi story it is done in such a quirky style that some may find it distracting and irritating.
Me? I love Lucy!
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) starts the film as a frightened gazelle-like student in Taipei (for reasons unclear in the film) where she is tricked into a dirty drug exchange with local Yakuza (or whatever the Taipei equivalent is) godfather Mr Jang (Min-sik Choi).
Things turn ugly when Lucy is forced into becoming a drug mule and when things go unpleasantly wrong the drugs have a radical effect on her body, allowing her access to increasingly large percentages of her brain function. Unable to control the process she contacts brain specialist Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) to ask for his help (not that he seems to have much of a say in things as it turns out). As Lucy’s powers escalate the need for more of the drug causes her to pursue the other drug mules around the world and a collision course with Jang and his henchmen becomes inevitable.
Johansson has been described as a modern day Marilyn Monroe, and you can see where that comes from in her striking curves, bone structure and pouty looks. However (as brilliantly shown earlier in the year in the excellent “Under the Skin”) she can turn her features to an other-worldly look that suit this film perfectly.
Co-star Freeman has very little to do in this film though, which is a bit of a shame: his lines seem to be rather short and sanctimonious. The words “spare part” spring to mind. Amr Waked makes more of an impression as the local Paris police chief who has to protect Lucy.
Also worthy of note is Eric Serra’s electronic score, which suits the mood perfectly.
But hats off to Besson, blending ‘2001’ like monkey business with animal sex cut-ins with a journey to the start of creation as a rollercoaster ride of dizzying speed: at 89 minutes, this is another example of ‘less is more’ in film running times. A brilliant time travel scene set in Times Square is just marvellously done, posing fascinating questions about the origins of intelligent man.
The only disappointment for me was the ending which (no spoilers) I found rather perfunctory. However, Lucy is a mainstream film that is both thrilling, gripping and thoughtful in equal measure. Recommended.
Fad Rating: FFFFf.