Written & Directed by Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Review by JJ Mortimer
Lucy is a short & intriguing sci-fi fantasy that explores the unknown capabilities of the human mind, hinging on a good performance by Scarlet Johansson, but is somewhat limited in audience attachment to her limited personality as her character begins to develop after the first act.
I'm a fan of French film maker Luc Besson and the body of work he has created over the past twenty years (highlights being Leon: The Professional, and being writer of the surprise hit, Taken). The man has a way of pulling you in to a film from the get-go, and it's no different here - Johansson plays "scared-to-death" fantastically, and it's in these early scenes that we connect with her. After a mishap involving the 'internal' trafficking of a new experimental drug causes Lucy to start experiencing rapid development of her brain function, her character goes into Terminator mode, and it's with this that the audience loses a bit of connection with her character. With Morgan Freeman, as a professor of neural advancement and theories of the brain, we get a bit of narration as he describes to a group of people (and in essence the audience) what Lucy will be experiencing as her brain function increases into realms and powers unknown.
The movie's pacing is never wasted, and the film is entertaining throughout. Despite Lucy's personality change as she becomes stronger with her brain powers, Johansson's portrayal of her is still interesting. Luckily the film does give us the humanity necessary for us to connect to the film with Morgan Freeman's character, and with a French police detective (played by Egyptian actor Amr Waked), who both help Lucy with her goal of using the drugs to experience as much as is possible with the human brain to see where the limits are, and pass on the knowledge.
Besson has a good eye for action, and nobody films car chase scenes better than the French, as is evident with his longtime cinematographer Thierry Arbogast in this film. Their use of smooth tracking shots and Steadicam operations make for action that is easy to follow. With Lucy, Besson has constructed a film that gets straight to the point and doesn't waste a minute of time. The movie smartly gets you connected on a human level before taking us into the realms of science fiction and fantasy, exploring the powers of the brain and the potential unlocking of telepathy, ESP, time travel and control, and other powers that the brain may hold that any comic book hero would willfully eat a gamma-radiated bar of ice cream to attain.
POSTIVES: Short, fun, easy-to-follow action, well-shot, well-acted, interesting ideas about the capabilities of the brain
SETBACKS (if any): Possibility of lack-of-connection with Lucy and audience once she becomes Neo/Terminator-ish; ending may have some a little confused as to what happened