Review written and owned by John McGinn
How can a film be witty, intelligent, and fun yet so, stupid and mundane? Well director acclaimed action writer, producer and director Luc Besson has found a way to bring combine both in Besson’s Lucy.
Luc Besson’s best years are decades behind him with his last great directorial effort in 1997’s The Fifth Element, and his best script effort since probably way back in 2002 with the original Transporter mixed in plenty of mediocre or subpar directorial and writing efforts. Yet Luc Besson is a master at crafting strong independent women who overcome hardships and violence, and continues the trend he started with Anne Parillaud in Nikita, and continues with Scarlett Johansson in Lucy. Though the film Lucy evolves and transforms thanks to a new designer drug that opens a pathway in her brain so that Lucy can assess more than ten percent of her brain that the average human has access that Lucy gains access to parts of her mind she has never been able to use before being able to learn near instantly, having access to all technology, and eventually being able to control time becoming god leading a strange moment where question is Scarlett Johansson god, and yes she is, and Lucy struggles with this realization about human limitation, her loss of her own humanity, and her death, Lucy comes to a decision about herself and perhaps the future of the human race.
Lucy certainly has a lot going on with the plot that Luc Besson wrote, and there were a lot of problems with it that I’ll get to in a moment. Besson wrote is script base on the idea and myth that humans only use about ten percent of our brains. It’s a myth created some time in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and that I believe growing up and spread through mass media like the most recent film Limitless.
Still Besson’s script is still is decently well done as Besson takes it step further than Limitless asking what would happen if we as humans had access to one hundred percent of our brain, and using all of it at the same time not just using a small percent while the rest of the brain rests until it is needed. Besson also has fun with the script mixing humor and imagery to advance an idea or visualize a plot moment even further especially in the early part of the film like animals matting or a Cheetah stalking a Gazelle, but Besson’s overly uses these moments as a plot device taking away from the overall plot and action of the film. The screenplay also seemed to have been heavily edited has Luc Besson had said he had written a whole back story for Lucy. Whether it was Besson’s ideas or the studio editors the script seems to have been tripped to meet a specific running time of about an hour and twenty five minutes taking away from any real character development outside of Lucy. I think Luc Besson wanted the film to stand on the idea for the script about humans and the access we have to our brains, and the question of what would happen to use as humans we had access to one hundred percent our brains, and could use it all at once, which if true ends up being a detriment to the quality of the film.
With the edited script and director Luc Besson’s decision to focus on his overall concept of the film actors like Morgan Freeman playing Professor Norman, Amr Waked as a French police captain Pierre Del Rio, and Choi Min-sik as Kang are short changed with the edits or it could be that the script was so bad that re-drafts, and edits had to be done. The script wasn’t the only thing that was hurt by the edited script the action was as well. Lucy certainly does have its intense and fun moments, but they’re more to do with showing off Lucy’s new found powers like putting to sleep a whole hallway of police officers in a hospital, single handling taking down a hallway full of Hong Kong gang members, watching as her body begins to literally fall to pieces on a plane, and a trippy moment when Lucy meets and early primate that was awesome that leaves the action with a major room for improvement especially two scenes late in the film. One scene takes place in the streets of Paris as Lucy, and Pierre Del Rio are rushing to a hospital to stop some gang members. The scene is obviously edited especially if you go back and watch the trailer, and the scene isn’t even a car chase scene it’s essentially moving characters from point A to point B just with a few car flips and wrecks. The action scene was poorly conceived, and filmed. Another scene is the climax that has a showdown with the Paris police and the Hong Kong mob inside a university, and again the drawn out scene seems to have been edited for time, poorly conceived and filmed taking away from the drama and suspense of the scene.
The negative seems to outweigh the positive with Lucy except we’re forgetting one factor in the talented and gorgeous actress who like in Captain American: Winter Soldier displays her acting talent, and action ability to once again show Scarlett can lead an action film, and deserves solo Black Widow film. Thanks to Johansson’s many talents that she has displayed many times this year and throughout her career bring acting ability, charm, personality, electricity, and humanity to Lucy that helps save the film from failure.
Luc Besson was once a true favorite of mine when it came to action able to bring a good script, unique, strong and independent women who were equal or even surpassed their male counter parts, and electrifying heart stopping action sequences, but those days are long behind him, and it may be time for the once influential action director to retire. Thankfully Scarlett Johansson and a few cool script concepts, decent action scenes that make Lucy a fun and decent action film, and save Lucy from being a bad action film filled with a mediocre script, many poorly done action sequences, and bad editing.
3.5 out of 5 stars