Published on September 1st, 2014 | by SgtKaiju0
Lucy – Review
Lucy marks Luc Besson’s first return to the world of sci-fi since 1997 seminal Fifth Element and those hoping for a film in a similar venue are likely to be disappointed.
Lucy tells the story of the Scarlett Johansson’s titular party girl, caught in a bad situation and turned into a unwilling mule for an experimental new drug. When this bag breaks and massive quantities of the product seep into her system, all hell breaks loose. The resulting increase in mental capacity gives Lucy various ‘powers’, which she then uses to plot revenge on those that put her in this situation.
The archetypes and themes that run through Besson’s work are very much evident here. His back catalogue very often deals with a main duo, the title character is usually a talented or powerful figure with lacking social skills, think Leeloo in Fifth Element or Leon in the film of the same name. Partnered with this you then to have the partner, the humanising force. Matilda teaches Leon how to be care and Korben Dallas teaches Leeloo how to love. These themes are evident in his films from Nikita through to today.
In this film, Lucy fills the role of the Power figure, with her personality being all but wiped when she ingests the drug and Morgan Freeman/Amr Maker filling the role of the humaniser. And this hints at the first problem with the film, it’s confusion.
This film feels very inspired by Kubrick, particularly 2001. There is a heavy reliance on Soviet Montage, the inter-cutting of seemingly nonsensical shots into the main narrative to achieve a stronger subtext. This is particularly effective in the opening scene of Lucy being convinced to drop off a briefcase, inter-cut with a nature scene of a gazelle being hunted by a cheetah.
This style, whilst effective, should be used sparingly, a rule Besson seems to have forgotten. After a while it begins to feel that they either didn’t have enough script or enough footage and were forced to pad out the narrative. And this reaches the crux of the issue with this film, it doesn’t know what it is. It appears to be half a mainstream narrative film and half a Koyaanisqatsi-esque art film, doing both a disservice. It is bound to leave mainstream movie-goers confused about the narrative and art crowd bored.
In addition, the main narrative has it’s own problems, the slow increase of Lucy’s brainpower isn’t matched very well with her powers and leaving them unexplained. In some scenes she can hold off a room full of people without lifting a finger, but later on needs the french police to protect her. In one scene she dissolves into dust, a fact that is never mentioned again or explained.
Despite this, there are serveral things to recommend about this film. Theirry Arbogast’s cinematography is wonderful, with many framings being striking in their beauty. Johansson is adept at playing Lucy’s childlike-godlike dual nature, bringing a fragility to the role that could have been simply a copy-and-paste of Black Widow in other hands.
Utimately, this is an interesting film that is let down by the the convictions of the creative team. Luc Besson should have done better to embrace one style or another, rather than letting the film land in a murky grey area between. Worth a watch but be prepared to leave mildly disappointed and confused.