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Lucy – Review


Release Date: 25 July 2014 [USA]
Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Cast: Scarlett Johansson - Morgan Freeman - Min-sik Choi - Amr Waked - Julian Rhind-Tutt



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Posted September 4, 2014 by

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Lucy Review:

As her week-old boyfriend sets her up to perform a shady Taipei drop-off, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) innocently awaits her receiver unaware of her imminent capture and subsequent life-changing experience. The tension in this opening sequence is made gloriously unbearable by an ever-intensifying melody, painful moments of nothingness and beautiful intercutting of a cheetah as it stalks its ignorant prey in the undergrowth. As Lucy’s Oriental captors draw closer (cue the Jaws soundtrack), so does the killer cat. We’re suddenly consumed by a stubborn feeling of the inevitable, jolted by our own empathy. The predator’s aggression grows stronger, the prey’s struggle, weaker. Outcome? Turn on the discovery channel.

Lucy, set against the backdrop of a crime-ridden Taiwan, sees the never-more-popular Johansson play a party girl who’s kidnapped and forced to work as a drug mule. When the contents of the package she’s carrying inside her body seeps into her bloodstream, she incurs an unexpected spike in intellect and fighting nous that sees her dramatically turn the tables on her abductors. Before long, the title character transforms into a resolute angel of retribution and later hosts a wrecking party on the streets of Paris.

For the majority, writer/director Luc Besson delivers routine ecstasies with cool composure, while Johansson bathes in a role that stands as a mainstream companion to her recent, fearless performance in Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin.

This cerebral sci-fi is essentially a rehash of 2011’s Limitless, but with more bullets, breasts and Malick-esque affectations. The Bradley Cooper vehicle and Besson’s philosophical feature are both inspired by the myth that humans only access ten percent of their brain’s capacity. The parallels continue when a drug allows the topliners to access one hundred percent of their cerebral capabilities, resulting in the possession of extraordinary skills; in Lucy’s case, the manipulation of matter and time travel, as our mutant Monroe hops across the millennia in some jaded fashion in search of meaning.

The issue with Besson’s latest is that the more brain control Lucy colonises, the more the plot gives way to silliness. The film’s visuals soon become impressionistic, initiating a drastic shift in tone; suddenly, Lucy has changed from the colour we thought it would be. In its abstraction, Besson’s hybrid pulls away from the Inception-esque impressions it previously worked to affirm. Instead, Lucy’s latter third feels like a tardy ode to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey in its deliberate manipulation of time and commentary on evolution.

As Lucy morphs into a tar-black substance, marking the pinnacle of this movie’s madness, her gooey ‘limbs’ vivaciously bleeds over the screen with as much consideration for its onlookers as Vesuvius had for Pompeii.

Although Morgan Freeman’s contributions as a neuroscientist at the top of his game were somewhat underwhelming, ScarJo was an utter pleasure to watch, as she continues her rampant run of revered femme fatales.

Bar some beautiful moments of cinematography and editing, and the glue that is Scarlett Johansson, Lucy is a middle-of-the-road moral story (although takes some finding) that trips up its own technical jargon and fails to clarify its intentions; a love letter to nature and time that’s surely unsure of itself.

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Anthony Lowery
Freelance Contributor

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