The cinema is meant to do a lot of different things. Make us laugh, make us cry, put us on the edge of our seat with tension and transport us to worlds that are both highly believable and amazingly fantastic. However, every once in a while, a movie comes along that requires you to turn every good sense you have in your brain off and just go for a ride. “Lucy” is a kinetic chase movie that doesn’t make a lick of sense and to be fair it doesn’t even bother to try, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining, even in as odd a fashion as this is.
It’s just another day for party girl exchange student Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) that is until she gets caught up in a drug deal in Taipei and has a mysterious drug implanted in her stomach against her will in order for her to smuggle to America. However all that changes when a lowly thug beats her up and causes the bag of drugs to burst. Instead of dying on the spot this mysterious drug allows her to unlock more and more of her brain’s power and learns secrets of evolution that would boggle out mind and change everything about our existence. The more she evolves the more powerful she gets and she needs to stay alive long enough to not only share her knowledge with the world, but make sure that the drug dealer (Choi Min-sik) who did this to her in the first place, never gets his hands on this drug again.
More or less a trashy recycle of everything to big budget action flicks to philosophical science fiction, writer/director Luc Besson gives us such an insane opus of violence and philosophical mediations on the human experience that is just so damn earnest that you can’t help but marvel at it.
At a lean and mean 90 minutes, Besson doesn’t mess around and gets straight to the point as we have the two stories of Lucy and Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) whose work in the potential of the brain begin to intersect at a near break neck speed. Besson can do close quarters action with the best of the them and it works well enough, especially in the first two acts of the film and when we hit the climax which just embraces a unthinkable gonzo nature, he throws as much sci-fi, philosophy, creationism and action at the screen as he can. It’s not supposed to be organized and well thought out, and it isn’t because we get nailed with everything but the kitchen sink thrown at the screen almost like Michael Bay had directed “The Matrix”. While Besson’s previous outing in science fiction “The Fifth Element” is a little more straightforward, here he wants us to be a little unsettled at what could possibly be.
While the dialogue borders on the corny and deadpan that doesn’t always work as well as it should, this story is so ridiculous that it at least allows the actor a chance to not sell everything that happens in the movie with an entirely straight face. Scarlet Johansson can obviously carry a movie with the best of them and does so with ease this time out as she transitions from out of touch exchange student to the uber evolved drug mule. It’s not a role that requires any nuance, just presence and she has that in spades. Meanwhile Morgan Freeman isn’t given much to do other then rattle off scientific data while all Choi Min-sik has to do is scowl, which to his credit he does very well.
At the end of the day, don’t go into “Lucy” with any lofty expectations because they won’t be met. But if you just want 90 minutes of gonzo entertainment that tries to be as lofty as it is insane then this just might be for you, because when people ask you if this movie is either smart or dumb, all you’ll be able to say is yes.
3 out of 5 stars.
“Lucy” is open in theatres all across the country tomorrow, please check with local listings for show times.