Score: 6 out of 10
French action auteur Luc Besson, the man behind films like Nikita, Leon, and The Fifth Element, has teamed up with Scarlett Johansson for his latest offering, Lucy. The film imagines what would happen if someone was able to access all of the processing power lying dormant inside their brain, and not just 10% like the rest of us. This is of course a myth, humans use all of their brain power all of the time, but in the fiction of the film it gives Besson an excuse to essentially turn his femme fatale into a super-powered superhero.
At the start of the film, Lucy is a normal young woman who’s tricked into being a drug mule for her sleazy boyfriend. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the drugs she’s forced to carry are an experimental new kind that increases the cerebral power of the brain. Before she knows it, her rapidly expanding cranial capacity gives her new mental and physical powers that include obvious ones like superhuman strength and perfect accuracy with weapons, and more silly ones like telepathy, psychokinesis, and the ability to instantly change her hair colour. Yes, that actually happens. Lucy can basically do anything she wants and kill anyone with the flick of a finger, except for the bad guys she inexplicably spares just so the film can reuse them as villains later on.
Lucy quickly dives off the deep end into an abyss of absurdity. Besson clearly wasn’t interested in grounding anything in reality, he just wanted his female hero to be able to do whatever he could imagine. It’s never really explained why an expanded brain would let you break the laws of physics or control objects without touching them. There’s some attempt at an explanation given by a character played by Morgan Freeman, whose only function in the film is to spout exposition about the human brain, relativity, evolution, the nature of infinity, quantum mechanics, and other mind-bending scientific fields that are often misrepresented in movies. There are some genuinely interesting moments punctuated by cool accompanying visuals, but for the most part, it’s all pseudo-scientific nonsense pretending to be profound.
For a film about using 100% of your brain, there is very little that’s smart about Lucy. If you go in expecting a thought-provoking action movie like Inception or The Matrix, then you’re going to be disappointed. What you get instead is fun fight scenes, over-the-top car chases, and some cool, colourful visuals with clever, Besson-style editing. It’s a perfectly acceptable summer action movie, but that’s all it is.
-Review written by Blake Siefken, follow me on Twitter!