Ginger Nuts of Horror
“Lucy”: I love Lucy... NOT.
Something of a mashup, part horror, part Sci-Fi, part natural history film or in other words… a bit of a mess.
In Taipei we meet Lucy (Scarlett Johansson); she's an ordinary student whom after meeting up with her somewhat pointless boyfriend Richard is tricked into delivering a briefcase to 'Mr Jang' (Choi Min-Sik, of "Oldboy" fame) who then recruits her against her will as a drug mule. Things go desperately wrong when Lucy gets an accidental overdose of what appears to be Heisenberg's finest Crystal Meth but is actually synthetic 'CPH4', the original biological version of which is what supercharges a human foetus with the ability to become us. In this case however it is allowing Lucy access to parts of the brain we aren't generally using. What follows is a movie which isn't sure what it is as it randomly cuts between boring scenario, over-the-top action to natural history footage and back again.
It's not often that I watch a film and find myself accessing hitherto unused areas of my brain where I can find whole new expletives to swear at the screen, but "Lucy" had the ability to make me do exactly that.
When I saw a poorly rendered Australopithecus (Also called Lucy) mooching about by a stream I said 'Fragrishnishfush…', I have no idea what it meant, but I was slamming my hands down on the sofa at the time, so my guess is that it was nothing good. I don't mind arty, I don't mind intellectual, but this is none of the above. It's absolute 'Grnthmlcoppsle' of the first degree.
Johansson is on her usual form, which to be honest I find to be rather bland, yet for once she isn't solely eye-candy in a skin tight outfit. It really is her vehicle as nobody else is massively important in the plot with the exception of Mr Jang and a Professor/neuroscientist played by rent-a-voice Morgan Freeman. Given the quite frankly ridiculous random inserts of animals cavorting on the Serengeti et cetera I was half expecting a monologue from Freeman in line with his "March of the Penguins" voice over, but was mercifully spared that. Instead Freeman's contribution, which was possibly intended to bring gravitas to the film by sounding like he knows his onions, is to read out a lot of theoretical bullshit and outdated science to a bunch of students who looked as bemused as I was.
Luc Besson often delivered the entertainment goods with tongue firmly wedged in stylish cheek as he did in “The Fifth Element”, “Taxi” and the excellent “District 13: Ultimatum”. He also does much darker material with a delicate touch such as in “Leon: The Professional”, however with “Lucy” I can't help wonder what the actual intention was as it is a humourless concoction which fails to deliver on so many levels that he appears to have invented whole new levels just so he can screw-up in them. Not so long ago another film dealt with the idea of taking a drug which unleashes the brain's potential, that film was “Limitless” which was a fun film well handled by all involved. “Lucy” was more limited by its style than it deserved to be, which is a shame because the concept was fun even if total bullshit. Anyone who has seen both “Limitless” and “Chronicle” will find themselves in familiar territory here, albeit in a less entertaining offering. It's not just the overall forced stylisation which lets this film down but also the majority of the acting, which is sadly obvious with many bit-part actors playing stereotypes who don't last long. Johansson doesn't get much to do that she hasn't done better elsewhere and makes for a character that is difficult to give a shit about, Choi Min-Sik's character is mostly a laughable waste of space as he doesn't speak English so has an interpreter on speakerphone for what could have been some very intense scenes. Regarding Morgan Freeman, well, he's Morgan Freeman, If it wasn't for his voice his career might well have terminated with a "Twilight Zone" episode in 1985.
This film is not all bad news though as the action in "Lucy", which only really gets going in the second half of the film, is as to be expected incredibly well handled, with many a shoot-out and an overblown car chase as Lucy does a spot of International travel with the intention of getting her hands on the rest of the stash, briefly taking in Berlin, Rome and Paris. Visually it has a lot going for it and the sad thing is that it could have been like that all the way through instead of attempting to be cerebral.
Trying to think of an audience for this film is hard. It has an adult rating as there's a strong drug theme, a lot of violence, and a few gruesome bits, but nothing that the general audience hasn't seen before. The 'youth market' could possibly enjoy the shoot-outs and car chases, the nerds could possibly enjoy the general 'superhero-ish' premise and the special effects, but in all honesty “Lucy” is the coffee-table-book of movies, pseudo-intellectuals will no doubt find plenty in it to discuss around the table in Starbucks.
"Lucy" is available now at Amazon and no doubt loads of other stores.