- Emma Simmonds
- 18 August 2014
Insane but entertaining sci-fi actioner from Luc Besson, starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman
With ambition coming out of its ears and ideas coming out of its arse, Lucy is the wayward brainchild of French writer-director Luc Besson. We've recently seen Scarlett Johansson fight alongside superheroes and assume the guise of a curious alien adrift from humanity; here she combines those skill-sets playing a woman surging toward god-likeness as she rapidly gains access to 100% of her brain capacity (apparently the average person uses just 10%).
We first meet Lucy as a punky bombshell with terrible taste in men. After being set up by the weasel she's seeing (Pilou Asbæk), Lucy falls into the clutches of Mr Jang (Min-sik Choi), who sews a bag of crystals into her stomach to use her as a mule. As the drug she's carrying leaks into her system Lucy swiftly evolves into something superhuman. This (exciting) ordeal runs in parallel with a related lecture given by neuroscientist Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman).
Besson was a pivotal figure in the cinéma du look movement and Lucy proves he can still deliver directorial chutzpah, although his latest is an uninhibited mess in its final scenes and further undermined by effects that are as shaky as the concept (which at least has earnestness at its core). Scant context is provided, so Lucy before the transformation is a blank page, and her eventual effortless superiority eases much-needed tension. It's also largely humourless, save moments of accidental comedy.
Still, Johansson acts as a reasonably adhesive glue. Satisfaction can be gained from the urgency of the action, from this terrorised woman being empowered with strength, and from the choice to put a formidably intelligent, physically ferocious female at the fore when the vast majority of mainstream protagonists remain men. Lucy is immensely inconsistent and exceedingly daft and yet it remains a good deal of fun.
General release from Fri 22 Aug.