Lucy is just another girl before a friend gets her involved with a Korean drug cartel, she is abducted and becomes infected with an experimental neural stimulating drug. The effect cascades and increases, making Lucy a superhuman with access to incredible mental powers. Can questions about the human mind be answered before the cartel catch up with her? Or will she self-destruct under the increasing strain on her body?
I was more than happy that two of my favourite actors were in this film, headliners Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman, but imagine my joy and surprise to see Oldboy’s Min-sik Choi in the opening credits too!
French director Luc Besson is no stranger to superhuman heroines either, colours of Leeloo from The Fifth Element and shades of one of his first films La Femme Nikita. He is in his element here. It is also great to see something original again! Something akin to comics and current science fiction franchises and yet an original screenplay!
The film is fast paced and full of action set pieces and physical fighting as we watch Lucy develop from the standard “10%” of her brain capacity escalates higher and higher! We know Johansson is capable in stunts and action what with Marvel’s Black Widow character, but Lucy becomes more of a race against the clock than a brawler, introducing the audience to the incredible mental powers humans might be capable of. It uses its entire runtime to express what is happening to Lucy and how it affects her mentally.
Min-sik Choi’s antagonist isn’t used as much as I would have liked, but as a Korean powerhouse of acting talent, it is good to see him in a Western production, especially one such as this!
The film’s key strength lies in its sense of humour, which goes from dry and intelligent to subtle and goofy. While Johansson’s Lucy becomes colder and more detached from her human side, our secondary characters, especially Freeman, have great fun bouncing off her detachment and incredible powers with bewilderment. This humour and fast pace stops the film becoming something of a pretentious waste of time and more an enjoyable romp with intelligent undertones.
This sense of humour does go off the deep end a little. Besson, in a peculiar move, splices throughout his film footage of wildlife and disconnected scenes that are metaphors for what is happening narratively. For example, when Lucy is first kidnapped we see an escalating scene of a cheetah stalking its prey, or a mouse going towards a trap. Running parallel with this is Freeman’s initial presentation speech about the human mind, also with wildlife footage.
This will probably alienate the wider audience, who’ll wonder why there’s National Geographic clips in their action movie!
But after reminding myself this is a Luc Besson film, Lucy gets better and better as it goes on and you can’t wait to see how far her mental powers go, and how the director will present it!