Lucy may not be the greatest film you ever see, but with great acting and unique cinematography, it certainly does enough to be entertaining.
Ahead of watching this film, I had to keep my expectations in check. Scarlett Johansson has recently proven that she is one of those rare gems that Hollywood only finds every now and then: someone who has become a star, but does independent arthouse (Under The Skin, Her) films and major blockbusters (The Avengers) simultaneously. Then there’s Morgan Freeman who, though a fine actor, is notable for producing great supporting voice-over narration for mediocre films (taking nothing away from the likes of Shawshank Redemption and Million Dollar Baby). Then, to top it off, the trailer for the film had become notorious for banking on the 10% use of our brains myth, which scientists have long since established to be a faulty assumption.
In Lucy, Scarlett Johansson plays the eponymous character, a student in Taiwan, who, after a series of unfortunate events, ends up being a mule for the new drug CPH4 for a Korean gang. After a violent interaction in a cell, the packet of drug that is sewn inside her body rips and starts to integrate into her system. This results in an increase in the use of her cerebral capacity, which rapidly starts to reach 100%. She soon starts to attain superhuman powers, being able to control matter, other human beings and even travel in time. What follows is a rapid action-based sequence of events where she tries to survive the Korean gang members who want their product back and to attain a better understanding of her powers via the help of Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman).
If there was one phrase to describe this film it would be “over the top”, and if I was constricted to one word: “silly”. Despite these choices, this has the potential to be a highly entertaining film, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. If you can suspend your belief at the right moments and keep telling yourself this has pure entertainment value, there’s no doubt you will come out the other side a very satisfied customer.
Luc Besson’s rather unique direction and cinematographical choices have to be noted as well. He uses a blunt, choppy method of editing that integrates itself rather cleverly into the film’s framework, providing the film with a pace that it so deservedly warrants. Told within a short time span, there is simply no opportunity for boredom.
There are also moments in the film which show great depth. From philosophical implications of the meaning of life, to the importance of the effects of time, it has moments of purity that can force the audience to think and ponder. The grandness of its ambition cannot be denied either: the very existence of life questioned, and whether such power and such knowledge are beneficial or detrimental to humankind are explored. What would a person do with that much power? It attempts, though amateurishly, to answer a multitude of questions that perhaps a movie such as this is not fully equipped to do.
Sadly, the movie’s very premise proves to be its downfall. With Lucy reaching such superhuman, almost god-like capabilities, there is almost little to no sense of consequence. The audience does not really fear for Lucy’s life, nor for any threat that she may encounter. She can literally do anything, so one might wonder why she needs anyone at all, or why there is even a conflict to begin with – a little bit like watching Superman when there’s no Kryptonite around.
It’s rated 15 based on the violence involved, which personally I find a little harsh but I won’t be one to argue too vehemently against it. There are moments of brutality that may shock the viewer, but it makes for entertaining storytelling and has great suspense value. This might be a great watch with a young adult and is perfect for opening up all sorts of discussions regarding evolution, existence and the meaning of life. Equally, this could be a bit heavy for some, but enjoyable if you or your teenager have a genuine interest in the grander questions of life.
In the end, this is not the greatest movie, nor a great movie, but it’s fun and provides an easy platform for philosophical debate. Highly recommended for a more mature viewing with your children.