Overview: A young woman is able to access more than the average human’s brain capacity when she’s forced to smuggle a new drug surgically implanted in her body. 2014, Universal Pictures, rated R, 89 minutes.
More, Or Less Than You Bargained For?: If you walk into this movie expecting a Limitless style science fiction action flick that follows Lucy around while she kicks some revenge ass and attempts to get a grip on her own humanity, you’re in for a surprise. You’ll see some of this, but it turns out that story line is buried beneath a much more ambitious, yet almost comically preposterous one. I still can’t decide if Lucy is brainless masquerading as thoughtful, or the other way around. Director Luc Besson essentially attempts to blend two movies together: one is the story of a young woman struggling to come to terms with her enhanced knowledge and loss of emotional connections, and the other is a bizarre, head tripping exploration of the heavy-handed concept of evolution and potential of the human brain. Lucy’s growing ability to manipulate other people, matter, technology, and well, basically anything, is used without consistency to fit Besson’s needs as he sees fit. The last bit of logic and cohesiveness in the plot is sacrificed for a climactic shootout between the good guys and the bad guys just for the sake of action, when Lucy either can’t multitask or doesn’t care enough to end it with the same nonchalant swipe of the hand she uses to transcend through time and space.
The Year of ScarJo: The saving grace of this film is Scarlett Johansson. Following her supporting scene stealing role in this spring’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and her other otherworldly lead in Under The Skin, she solidifies herself in Lucy as a powerhouse female actor who can carry the weight of any film. It’s easy to forgive the rest of the movie’s shortcomings and holes when ScarJo is dominating every scene. During the first half, Johansson portrayal of a young woman suffering the horrors of being abducted in a foreign country is raw and authentic. She draws you in and she trembles and pleads and panics. Her evolution from an average, 20-something girl to a cold, calculated superhuman is more believable and subtle than the movie’s own transition. As Lucy loses sight of her place in the world, so does the story itself, and the real concept of Lucy reveals itself as a secret that only Besson and crew are in on.
Final Thoughts: Regardless of its many flaws, Lucy is worth the ticket price just to see Johansson’s performance. Just try not to think about it too much.