Friday, July 25, 2014

Lucy (2014) - Movie Review

Lucy is a movie written and directed by Luc Besson, the acclaimed film maker behind classics like La Femme Nikita, Léon: The Professional, and The Fifth Element. Scarlett Johansson stars as the title character while Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, and Amr Waked fill out the primary supporting roles.

Lucy (Johansson) is struggling as a student in Taiwan, at least until an unexpected turn of events puts her right in the middle of a powerful drug cartel run by Mr. Jang (Choi) who is looking to introduce a brand new, highly potent, synthetic drug to the entire world. When she is sent to America with the drug surgically implanted into her abdomen, a run in with on of Jang's thugs causes an accident that releases the drug from its packaging and begins an evolutionary event that gives Lucy some very interesting abilities.

The first thing you need to know about this movie is that the marketing campaign is a bit misleading. The commercials and trailers promise an ass kicking, action-packed movie where Scarlett Johansson's character takes on anyone in her path. While there is a fair amount of action, there really isn't much in the way of the Black Widow style fighting one would expect from watching the trailer. That being said, I felt this was a very entertaining movie that really falls in line with the type of films Besson has created in the past. As a director, his movies are always a bit left of center and, at times, leaves you with some seriously unexpected twists and turns. Lucy definitely has a lot of these same qualities, it just doesn't execute the entire package as well as the three Besson movies that are so far known as his definitive works.

My main issue with the story is how much time spent explaining what this movie is about. While I don't mind helpful exposition, I feel the audience doesn't need to be spoon fed details every single step of the way. Morgan Freeman has recently made a career out of delivering exposition and, to be honest, that schtick is wearing a little thin in my book. I would really like to see him actually act in a movie rather than just play the smart, older guy who is there to explain everything to everyone. Scarlett, on the other hand, can pretty much do anything she wants in a movie...I really don't care. If she is in the movie, I am going to enjoy every single scene that she is in without hesitation. I feel no need to explain myself further.

Okay, so I will explain a little further. Sure, Ms. Johansson is one of the most beautiful women currently employed in the film industry and that is a wonderful thing, but she is actually a very talented actress as well. She commands attention with a style that is strong, yet very engaging which works perfectly in her role as Natasha Romanov in the Marvel movies, but feels a little out of place when cramming all of that into Lucy. While her character eventually evolves into a sufficiently Johansson-style persona, she is not very believable as the weak and shy young girl we see at the beginning.

I have heard and read lots of complaints about how the movie's "we only use 10% of the brain" premise is entirely false and renders the movie pointless. My first response to these naysayers would be that Lucy is a work of fiction (science fiction, no less!) created by the same guy who dreamed up The Fifth Element. Debate over.

As I mentioned earlier, there will not be as much action as one might expect from this movie although what we do get is very entertaining. Unfortunately, this just made me want more action and especially during scenes where Morgan Freeman had to talk about stuff for a long time. There's also a few scenes that feel like they are building up to some serious Matrix or Kill Bill style fighting but, by this time, Lucy is becoming so powerful, her opponents are really no match for her. Trust me, this will make sense when you see it.

As I sit here writing this review, I feel like every other sentence is either praising one thing or complaining about another which actually does a good job of defining how I feel about the movie as a whole. There is so much potential and so much cool stuff going on, but it all gets bogged down by a science fiction story that the director takes too much time trying to explain. Overall, Lucy is entertaining and I would recommend it to just about anyone. Scarlett is awesome, the action we do get to see is solid, and the story ends up being good even though it tries so hard to be great.


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