directed by Luc Besson
(Universal, 2014)

Luc Besson is one of those directors whose style precedes him. His films are nothing if not colorful and enthusiastic. Sometimes they're classics like Leon: The Professional; sometimes they are lovable cult hits like The Fifth Element. From Nikita to Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, Besson has crafted some of the best, hardest-hitting females badasses to grace the silver screen. Lucy is as gloriously over-the-top as the rest of his work. Though it's not terribly suspenseful or thoughtful, it's loud and weird and fun, in its own way. And it's got Morgan Freeman in it, so it can't be that bad.

Besson opens on a philosophical note about the origin of life on Earth, musing about why we have done so little with that life in all the time we've lived. Then the movie dives headfirst into a plot with a heck of a set-up: college party girl Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), hanging out in futuristic Taipei, is coerced by her recently acquired boyfriend to deliver a briefcase to a hotel. The briefcase is full of drugs and the drugs are a super-enhanced form of hormone crucial to the genetic development of fetuses; in other words, the building blocks of life. The drug deal goes horribly wrong, Lucy is kidnapped and implanted with bags of the drug. The bags burst during her captivity, sending the superdrug coursing through her system and giving her superhuman powers.

Using her new super-awareness and strength, Lucy makes it her mission to ruin the drug lord and contain all supplies of the drug. As she and a police officer with whom she teams up chase the drug lord literally around the world, she begins to morph into a super being even as her mortality is running out.

There's a lot of musing on the nature of existence while exchanging gunfire and getting in car chases that are James Bond-level good, if not better. Besson does a marvelous action set piece.

Johansson is so comfortable in the sci-fi action genre that it's as though she was born to play roles like this. Her cool detachment makes the roles seem effortless, making her vulnerable moments much more poignant for her minimalism.

The film does descend into a bloodbath of frenzied, almost non-stop action that's mesmerizing. Bad guys are flying everywhere in total comic-book action. It's great if you like Matrix-style action with slick, breakneck action. This is one of those films where it's definitely better to turn off your brain and enjoy the rollercoaster ride. Inconsistent but ambitious, full of pretty big ideas about time, space, and the true abilities of the human mind, Lucy is a cranked-up-to-the-roof action picture that's nontraditional and as interesting as it is energized and alive, and a lot of fun once you have the chance to absorb it all.

review by
Mary Harvey

15 November 2014

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