Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Analeigh Tipton, Amr Walked, Min-Sik Choi, Julian Rhind-Tutt
Rated: R (strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality)
A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.
By Cole Schneider
“Lucy” is one of the dumbest movies I’ve seen this year. From its beginning premise to its end philosophy, this is an unquestionably dumb movie. “Lucy” is also concurrently a brilliant cinematic thrill ride. Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element) directs another female led action hero, this time played by Scarlett Johansson (Lost In Translation, The Avengers, Her).
Her titular character is drugged such that she accesses increasing amounts of her brain bringing what can best be described as superpowers with passing time. The catch is that no one knows what happens once 100% of her brain is unlocked. In only 24 hours everything hits the fan, Lucy might die.
“Lucy” absolutely must be a film. It would be a terribly boring novella. The whole experience is visual. It is a cinematic explosion of intrigue packed into one of the most tight 90 minutes of film this year. In the hands of anyone else in the business this would be a two-hour slog, but Besson keeps it lively with his rapid-fire editing and sharp wit throughout. It’s more Edgar Wright than Marvel Studios. Somehow it’s also more Terrence Malick than Tom Clancy. Imagine if Sissy Spacek had an axe to grind throughout “Carrie” and you have a decent approximation.
It’s a revenge movie with cinematic attitude. It’s a drug movie that is genuinely trippy. It’s a goofy movie unafraid of its own silliness. It’s creative, ambitious, and imaginative while retaining its summer blockbuster roots. Simply, “Lucy” is really, really cool. The film has problems in every arena, but it’s undeniably unique and loads of fun to boot. It is pure adrenaline cinema.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
By Matt Greene
Lucy is a Bourne Identity meets Kill Bill meets Limitless romp auteured by Luc Besson, the man behind classics like Leon the Professional and La Femme Nikita. In one of the stranger wide releases in years, there is much reward given to those willing to give Lucy grace (ridiculous premise and over-the-top aspirations). It’s flawed, but it’s a brightly filmed and darkly themed scifi action thriller that delivers.
Lucy posits the debatable notion that humans only use 10% brain capacity. Johansson plays the title character that goes from monotony to superhero when a new drug gives her the ability to use 100% of her brains power. Her capabilities aren’t just big math problems and fast reading, but telekinesis, shape shifting and other comic-booky things. It’s a fascinating if overly ambitious premise that Besson puts to great use, playing it out like a briskly paced, inventive TV pilot. The scifi is strong, with theories and declarations posited throughout and thematic exposition that works.
The shining element here is Johansson, who continues her upward trajectory in a bombastic yet effective performance. Her progression from a nobody to the most powerful femme fatale in history is emotional, funny and relatively believable.
It’s great to see Besson bounce back after The Family to present what may be his magnum opus, touching on all of time and creation in under 90 minutes. Sure, some of the effects are cheap and goofy, but the editing is unique and tight, the violence and style are lively, and the storytelling is refreshing. Engaging and cool, Lucy is highly stylized scifi pulp of the highest order.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars