Nutshell: I’d give Lucy a B. An exploding piñata of violence, humor and scientific mumbo-jumbo that may not be completely coherent but is easy to watch and enjoy. Enough tongue-in-cheek to keep the stranger bits afloat, and Johansson shines. Come for the ol’ ultraviolence, stay for the Deep Thoughts.
Movie Review: Lucy
Twitview: Existential sci-fi at it’s most fun. Johansson’s best performance to date.B
Man, I’d love to be able to mainline Luminosity and really be a big-brained mofo. You too? Scarlett Johansson’s gal is in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe it’s all right?) and gets to discover what it’s like to be 100% brilliant in Lucy. If 100% comes with goons trying to kill me, and my body trying to come apart at the atomic level? Maybe I’ll accept my limits.
Lucy (Johansson) has spent some funtimes with a guy named Richard. Richard has a delivery to make, but he doesn’t want to make it. So he does what any other nice guy would do; he handcuffs a briefcase onto the girl he just shagged, and forces her to do it. Lucy gets in over her head real fast, and before she knows it, she’s got a bunch of stitches on her abdomen and a gut full of blue crystal that’s supposed to be the next big wonderdrug for all the junkies out there. When one of her mob babysitters kicks her in the gut for saying no to his advances, Lucy gets to know what it’s like to ride that particular drug train…and it’s a whole lot more than it’s developers had in mind. As her mind begins to expand, and crazy new powers develop, she decides to take down the jerks who did this to her. Meanwhile, Professor Norton — neuroscientist extraordinaire — gets a phone call from a woman who embodies all his hypotheses, looking for help. Guess who?
First off, let me say that at this screening there was a lot of giggling. Because people are stupid. And so is the marketing for this film. Lucy is definitely an art-house film, and it’s being pushed as a Hollywood blockbuster. Le sigh. Any wonder that most of the moviegoers at the screening I attended giggled every time they saw anAustralopithecus Afarensis (a.k.a. pre-historic human relative)? It’s because monkeys are funny y’all. *eyeroll* Lucy bops from the main storyline to stream-of-thought to a pastiche of earth’s history and back again, so those who are looking for a simple bang-bang film are best…avoiding Luc Besson’s films altogether. Because Besson makes you work. The Professional, The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita; they’re all excellent films that are more than just surface. For those of you that don’t mind thinking about things? You’ve hit the motherload of cool.
That said, the CGI/robotics/whateverall ain’t all that great here. Not for an audience treated to stuff like The Life of Pi, The Avengers and the Planet of the Apes reboot. And as Lucy unlocks bits of her brain no other human has ever used? She morphs a bit, and definitely takes advantage of her ability to manipulate others. Where the CGI stutters in Lucy, the fight choreography and on-set FX makes up for it.
But the cinematography is excellent here too, as is the art direction, from seedy underworld prison to an all-white computer wonderland. Exposition scenes are quick-cut into the storyline, giving the audience a view inside that character’s head, literally and sometimes figuratively. It’s a quick and easy way to get the point across, and it works perfectly. My favorite? When a character feels trapped, there’s a cut to two cheetahs hunting a gazelle. It’s spot-on, and not only can everyone understand the connection, but it injects a bit of levity to a vicious scene.
Thinking about unlocking your own brain? Now don’t go ingesting every blue crystal you see — the majority of the scientific community believes that the 10% Brain Capacity theory is pure hooey. (Shout out to Johns Hopkins researchers!) But it’s a damn appealing idea, isn’t it? For now, just leave it to Lucy.