Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), an American student in Taiwan, is forced to becoming a drug mule for a criminal gang. While being held captive she is exposed to the drug which gives her access to a rising percentage of her brain capacity.
Luc Besson peppered my late teens and twenties with his wonderfully unique and fast paced films like Subway, The Big Blue, La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element. Here he continues with one of his strongest themes i.e. increasingly kick ass female lead characters surrounded by a bunch of fairly helpless men.
This premise has been covered before (recently in the enjoyable but weakly concluded Limitless) but Besson takes a different view of how heightened brain capacity could affect a human. As opposed to the enjoyment, playfulness and commercial end of higher functioning we saw in Limitless, Lucy tries to treat the increasing awareness in a philosophical and scientific manner.
But, and yes there is a big ‘but’ here… no, I lie, there are a lot of little ‘buts’ here. It begins slowly as little-to-no-background Lucy finds herself at the mercy of the stereo-typically one dimensional Taiwanese gangsters. This is inter cut with neuroscientist Professor Norman (an underused Morgan Freeman) giving a lecture on the potential effects of increased brain function (hammering home the foreshadowing Lucy’s development). His lecture on human development is punctuated by irrelevant images depicting survival and procreation.
Besson has also tried to make an action film here as well. The result is that we are given snatches of what is going through Lucy’s mind as her brain begins to view the world through a dazzlingly different lens. Just as this is getting interesting we must endure lengthy car chases and western like stand offs between various characters.
Another ‘but’ is that the script is lazy and we are left no identifiable characters expect perhaps Pierre Del Rion (Amr Waked) the French Policeman who after being helpful for a brief moment seems to lose so much relevance to the plot at one stage he actually asks Lucy what she needs him for.
I am all for suspension of disbelief but there are too many conveniences to overlook here and a few plot holes to navigate around which drowns the enjoyment of a good concept. Even the end which is clever and messy at the same time cannot save the overall enjoyment.
One thing Besson does not overlook is the use of Scarlet Johansson’s feminity. As per his usual feisty heroines, she dresses up and down, looks amazing, kicks ass and all the while Lucy’s initial character disappears cleverly into her evolving intellect.
Besson maybe just trying to outdo himself in the powerful female lead characters as I do believe If you put Lucy and Leeloo (from The Fifth Element) on a room together, Lucy would be the winner while as a movie it is the loser.
Fun but flawed.
Lucy is in Irish cinemas now.