I tend to enjoy Luc Besson’s films. There’s something so endlessly watchable about his brand of dumbness. However, Lucy is the dumbest movie about smart people I’ve ever seen. The character in the movie uses a 100% of her brain by the end of the film which results in the film using 0% of it’s brain. It’s the type of movie that expects its audiences to turn off their brains at the door.
I’ve grown up reading comic books and watching comic book movies, where characters gain abs and super powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider, so suspending my disbelief at Lucy’s premise wasn’t hard. That was my mindset going into the movie, but by the end even the premise wore me down.
Lucy is based around the supposed fact that humans only use 10% of their brains. So a designer drug is crafted to allow people to access the remaining 90%. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) gets caught in the middle of a trade gone bad and is forced to smuggle the drug, which her captors sew inside of her. She obviously gets exposed to the drug and then goes a revenge killing spree on the people who did this to her.
As the film counts down to 100% Lucy gets smarter but the film gets dumber. The direction is so slick that at first you choose to ignore it but as the film begins its final act it enters into territory that is borderline fantasy.
Luc Besson has described the structure of the film as the first act being Leon the Professional, the second act being Inception, and the third act being 2001: A Space Odyssey. And you can see you can see influences from each of those movies within Lucy but this ends up hurting the film. This causes inconsistencies in Lucy’s tone, as things get so strange that you begin to wonder if you’re not watching a superhero origin story. Especially, a scene on an airplane that has Lucy’s entire body constantly changing form, trying to find the best possible, for lack of a better word, suit for her.
But I guess you could say that Lucy’s stupidity is it’s charm because I kept asking myself could this movie get any dumber? And it did.
Besson starts the film the way you’d expect. Lucy is being talked into delivering a package for this guy she recently met. She declines while being immune to his douchey charm. So like all douchey men, he forces her into doing his work and like prey wanders into the deal. This beginning scene is actually wonderful. Besson intercuts moments of this scene with stock footage from Animal Planet. Scenes where Lucy is being sweet-talked into doing someone’s bidding is intercut with footage of a mouse sniffing around a loaded trap. Or when Lucy is clearly in a bad situation, Besson intercuts that entire sequences with footage of a cheetah hunting and killing it’s prey. It’s a great stylistic flourish that gives the film some great visual punch; it’s a shame that when the second act begins (the Inception part), Besson completely loses interest in this conceit and drops it.
Lucy is visually brilliant but thematically stupid. Besson directs the film with such great visual flair and fun that you really want to like it and I tried really hard to like Lucy. Even when this movie made no sense and confused the hell out of me, at least Johansson was great and captivating. She has this great onscreen presence that demands you to pay attention.
So it’s too bad that Lucy, the character, turned out to be nothing more than male fantasy of what a badass female character should be. It’s not only the way she’s dressed up but also the way her character is constructed and then evolves. Lucy’s evolution is a huge part of the plot, but it’s not fun watching a character lose her humanity. From a film interested in being fun on a bonkers level, going in that direction made no sense. She starts off as a character who is filled with so much energy and life and becomes a silent robot by the end of it. It’s basically a commentary on the notion that women never shut up. Even the clothes the filmmakers dress her up in scream male fantasy. White top with black bra underneath so you know where her breasts are at all time. Not to mention she’s seeking vengeance in heels. I blame her heels for the lack of interesting action sequences. She’s the sexy silent killer, who rarely gets her hands dirty.
And yes, even the action is disappointing because none of it is memorable. All the scenes are directed well but they aren’t all that imaginative or clever. They just don’t live up to having someone like Johansson as it’s lead. We’ve seen her kick more ass as Black Widow; who is a more well rounded and interesting character than Lucy will ever be.
There’s more dialogue than action, which is not something I prefer from a film written by Luc Besson. Every word of bunk science that comes out of these characters mouths get dumber as the movie goes on. You just become tone deaf to the whole thing.
So, I’ve pointed out how dumb of a film Lucy is, how unimpressive the action is and how Lucy is not really a badass female character but more a male fantasy in high heels. But yet I walked out of Lucy entertained. Besson directs this film with intense visual energy that you are really entranced by all of it. Also the dumbness in some moments is charming, I said in some moments. I doubt I’d ever see Lucy again, but during it’s 90 minutes of runtime it made me angry at it’s stupidity but it’s direction & visuals left me entertained. And maybe that’s all that matters.
Score: 5.5 out of 10.