Lucy is Luc Besson’s latest project and one suffering from a severe case of failure to launch.
Our protagonist Lucy is tricked into delivering a suitcase to shady businessman Mr Jang but gets kidnapped and “offered a job” as a drugs mule. She wakes up with a bag of drugs sewn into her abdomen and gets beaten so badly that the bag of synthetic blue narcotics leaks into her body. The overdose does not kill her however; it pushes her brain into full capacity and she discovers that she can manipulate the world around her. Mr Jang’s hunt for Lucy begins and she must reach 100% before Mr Jang can get to her and the rest of the drugs that are hidden inside several other kidnapped victims.
The idea itself is original and interesting, but the execution and direction Besson takes it in is disappointing. The seductive trailer promises more action than we receive and the plot itself turns out to be pretty non-existent. The film has the opportunity to make and explore some novel fighting styles as Lucy’s powers are not ones we have seen before, but this potential is overlooked. The action scenes are short and simple, and the film finishes before it really has any time to develop – it is a mere 89 minutes long.
The characters are two dimensional and you are not given the chance to form any real attachments to them, meaning you don’t find yourself getting deeply involved in the film. Morgan Freeman’s character Professor Norman has around 5 minutes of screen time and you wonder why such an esteemed actor is not being put to good use. Johansson is brilliant as Lucy, but because the character is evolving into an emotionless being you are rooting for her, but only because you’re supposed to: there’s no passion behind wanting her character to succeed. Her relationship with cop Pierre Del Rio is strange, lingering on the sexual but then never really going anywhere, so you have to question why they bothered giving these two characters a random inkling of “something more” instead of just keeping it platonic.
There are some good qualities to the film – intercutting scenes with animal footage to reflect what is happening is effective and echoes the entire films questioning: what it is to be human; what makes us different from the animals, if anything? The special effects are impressive, and the scene where Lucy is on an airplane and her skin starts to decompose and shred is both disturbing and brilliant. It is also great that the film starts quickly and shocks you instantly, but some time should have been spent giving us a picture of Lucy’s character before the event so that when she began to evolve we could see the stark contrast of before and after. The emotional call to her mum hints at her humanity but the process of change has already begun, so we never really get at Lucy’s original nature.
The ending of Lucy is the biggest let down and I heard every single movie-goer grumbling about it when the lights went up. Even if it was trying to make a philosophical point about the meaning of life, it could have been done in a better way or given more time to build up towards a crescendo ending. You are left feeling slightly empty and with the idea that perhaps the meaning of life is to go and see better movies.