LUCY
Author: J.A. Hyde
July 25, 2014

SYNOPSIS: Lucy, an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Lucy, Luc Besson’s latest offering, is a film that will generate much conversation. That’s what was going on after the preview screening – people were hanging around talking about it. Like it or hate it, no one was indifferent. There were equal amounts of applause and scowls as the house lights came up. Actually, the story is based on the myth that humans use only 10% of their brain capacity, a popular notion until the development of PET technology. The 10% premise was based largely on research from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and perpetuated by science fiction writers over the decades. PET scans reveal that humans use most of their brains most of the time – even while sleeping. Some areas are more active than others depending upon what the subject is doing. Given that, it’s best to remember that Lucy is a story, not a seminar in brain theory.

Scarlett Johansson skilfully portrays Lucy, no last name ever given, delivering an intriguing and complex character for the audience. She morphs from a hard-partying American student in Taipei, Taiwan, to the terrified captive of a ruthless drug lord, to the drug-induced super brain with seemingly endless powers.

Morgan Freeman plays Professor Norman, a leading expert in brain research, who happens to be delivering a seminar on brain capacity in Paris. Fortunately, Freeman underplays Norman giving the story an air of legitimacy. The brutal drug lord, Mr. Jang, is played by Korean actor Min-Sik Choi. All characters are subordinate to Johansson’s Lucy, but Amr Waked deserves recognition as Captain Del Rio of the Paris police force.

The less you know about how Lucy ends up in the hands of Mr. Jang and his thugs, the better. Ditto on how she ends up getting the drug in her system. The line of tension created by her circumstances will definitely pull you into the story, and is indeed the best part of the film. After that, the true sci-fi stuff begins, and you’ll have to let go of logic a bit to enjoy it. But that’s what I recommend because, as I said before, this is a story – not a brain seminar.

There are a few things that would have been easy to change that would have made this a better film. The symbolism is heavy-handed. I guess Besson doesn’t trust his audience to get his points, which brings us to another weakness: his point/points remain a bit unclear. Deleting the last line of the script, which is done in voice-over, would have helped clarify his message. As it stands, the preview audience was left going, “Huh?”. An extended car chase scene in the middle of the film should be about ¼ as long as it was. In fact, the violence in the film doesn’t really enhance anything. It just makes you wonder why advanced brain capacity wouldn’t alleviate the need for it.

Overall, the reactions to the film were fairly polarized. Science purists didn’t take to it, but Scarlett Johansson fans and those who just liked the story did. If you’re a Johansson fan, this is a must-see. It’s a tour-de-force for her. I was one of those who let go of logic and enjoyed the film. - JoAnne Hyde

GRADE: B


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