Release Date: July 25, 2014
Running Time: 89 minutes
In Her, Scarlett Johansson voiced an operating system with artificial intelligence that evolved into something more human than human. In Under the Skin, Johansson played a man-eating alien who experiences human emotion. In writer/director Luc Besson’s Lucy, which completes Johansson’s trifecta of films about the human condition, she’s an everywoman whose brain use jumps from 10 percent to 100 percent as a result of ingesting experimental synthetic drugs. Running a lightning-fast 89 minutes, Lucy unfolds like the first third of a superhero origin story. Besson, though, doesn’t know what to do with Lucy. He fails to provide any background on Lucy before she’s forced to become a drug mule for a South Korean mobster, who is played to menacing perfection by Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik. So we have precious little idea who Lucy is before she becomes the smartest and strongest person in the world and how she’s emotionally and psychologically changed by the drugs. Besson doesn’t require much from Johansson once she’s obtained her superpowers. See Lucy run. See Lucy smash. See Lucy evolve. Johansson’s in Black Widow fighting shape, but she doesn’t seem to be enjoying her opportunity to be the one blessed with superpowers. The blank-faced Johansson goes through the motions as a one-woman killing machine. On the run from the mobster, Lucy’s final destination is a research lab, where she is to meet with a professor who studies brain use. Morgan Freeman, who plays the professor, conveys his exposition-heavy dialogue with his usual gravitas. His presence brings to mind this spring’s disasterous Transcendence, which pitted him against Johnny Depp’s virtual villain. Unlike Transcendence, which took itself very seriously and believed itself to be cleverer than it really was, Lucy is all about the mayhem. Having used only 1 percent of his brain on his script, Besson channels all his energy into staging some mind-blowing action sequences that take full advantage of Johansson’s ability to kick ass. Besson does overdo with it the stock footage of animal imagery—we get it, it’s a jungle out there, and only the strong survive—but the thematic use of Lucy, believed to the one of the first humans, serves Besson well in the bid by Johansson’s Lucy to achieve a higher consciousness. Lucy ends on such an abrupt note that one can’t help but feel like Beeson ran out of ideas. Or had no interest in pursuing the deeper meaning of Lucy’s transformation and its obvious implications. To Besson, whatever greater good Lucy can achieve is never as importance as her ability to beat down those who intend her harm. For Johansson, Lucy makes a powerful case for Marvel to make a Black Widow solo adventure.
Aired: July 24, 2014
Web site: http://www.lucymovie.com/