Despite its titular character expanding the use of her brain capacity, the only thing that Lucy seems to stretch is time.
Nonsensical and over-simplistic, Lucy feels like it would have fared better as a short film, needing no more than 10 minutes to tell its curiously straightfoward story.
But this is a profit-driven film industry, and so Luc Besson interweaves his story with its only selling point; 90 minutes of Scarlett Johansson. And as long as we acknowledge that this is all the movie has to offer, Lucy delivers and is strangely satisfying.
MINI-SPOILER MARK: Minor plot details discussed beyond this point. No major spoilers revealed.
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a less-than-ordinary American living and studying in Taipei. After she is tricked and forced into becoming a drug mule, a Korean mafia sews a bag of the synthetic CPH14 drug into Lucy’s abdomen, and sends her and three other men off to transport the drugs to their respective countries. Before she can do so, Lucy is kicked in the stomach by a gang member, and this breaks the bag and releases excessive amounts of the potent drug into her system. Resultantly, Lucy begins to access an ever-growing capacity of her brainpower, granting her supernatural abilities and control over her own body, other people and the environment. Knowing that she might not survive as her abilities grow, Lucy works with police captain Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked) and expert Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) to transfer all of her newly acquired knowledge to mankind before her time is up.
For a movie that explores evolution, Lucy is exceptionally ordinary, perhaps even backward and brainless. The utter nonsense that is the plot is full of logical gaps that would confound viewers if they were willing to invest the effort to make sense of it. Lucy’s rapid journey to ultimate enlightenment lacks depth and meaning, and is really not that enlightening at all. As with the drugs, action scenes are almost obligatorily slotted into Lucy‘s system, and features such dated special effects and choreography that it does nothing but serve as a distraction from the overall silliness of the movie. And so, interestingly enough, the sub-par fight scenes and car chases actually save the film, even if for the wrong reasons.
Someone should give Scarlett Johansson a bigger pay cheque, because not only is the actress the film’s only selling point, Johansson also steps up as the kick-ass heroine and saves the movie with her far from great, but cool and charming performance. Johansson manages to hold her own, save for a scene when her body threatens to disintegrate, and makes Lucy more entertaining than it should have been. In a nutshell, Lucy is Scarlett Johansson strutting her stuff as the world bows down to her, literally and metaphorically. And it actually works, only because Johansson manages to be more than just a marketing tool.
Morgan Freeman provides the only other source of star power in the movie. And while his role as Professor Norman is far from the most impactful of characters on his legendary resume, it is safe to say that the highly coveted calibre and, dare we stress, voice of Morgan Freeman is necessary for us to take the movie’s plot, brain capacity theory and all its balderdash seriously. Freeman and Johansson are Lucy‘s smartest investments, and thanks to the power duo, we get a decently entertaining 90 minutes.
If Christopher Nolan’s Inception is on one end of the movie intellect scale, Lucy would ironically be near the opposite end. It requires close to no intellectual activity on the audience’s part in order for its nonsensical premise to be overlooked and its surprisingly entertaining elements to be appreciated.
In spite of the truly 10% worth of brain capacity and effort in its plot, Lucy successfully delivers everything it promises; a passable heroine to root for and 90 minutes of Scarlett Johansson on the big screen.
Lucy will suck the intelligence out of you, but some of us could admittedly use some brainless fun.
Rating: 3/5 (TALK-o-meter: “Okay, I guess? Could be better.”)