I caught Scarlett Johansen’s new action sci-fi flick Lucy… written and directed by mad Frenchman Luc Besson (of 5th Element and The Professional fame). It’s a movie that, frankly, you will either be able to go along with or you will thing it just goes off the rails and wrecks itself. I went along with it. I think the movie is kind of brilliant… also kind of stupid.
The premise of the movie – Scarlett’s character (Lucy) is turned into an unwilling drug mule for an experimental new drug but the bags burst inside of her which causes her mind to expand. The movie uses the long-discredited idea that humans only use 10% of our brains as a convenience to track how her progress (“Now she’s using 20%” “And now it’s 90%!”). A lot of the science in this science fiction is just dumb but it’s really just a screenwriting crutch to tell the story of human hyper-evolution and transcendence. It helps that most of it is recited by professional “I’ll listen to this guy say anything” man Morgan Freeman (who is probably 100% smarter in real life than the lines he’s reciting). I give the flick a pass – even though the science is terrible, the rest of the movie works so well.
So ScarJo’s brain is expanding and she’s losing touch with her humanity – and it’s a really pretty great acting job. A lot of it is cold and emotionless (because she’s grown beyond those trivial things, you see) but it’s not distant… she’s acting her ass off in a variety of dialog-heavy, highly philosophical scenes and she pulls it off. Pulls off some admittedly crazy philosophy, but I give the baffling nonsense a pass because the film is just so damn committed to it (and, hey, maybe it all ultimately makes sense… but I doubt it). It takes some skill to talk about your own brain expanding and not have it just sound silly.
In fact, the movie just goes “there” in such interesting and amazing ways that (like I said earlier) you will either groove on or just tune out. It’s either brilliant or goofy. I don’t think there’ll be many people in between.
I want to give a special shout-out to the first 20 minutes of the film which was some of the more suspenseful and creatively edgy cinema I’ve seen in some time. It’s so well done, that, even though I knew full well where the story was going from the trailers, I still was in suspense over the drama and the really scary scenario involving a briefcase, hand-cuffs, and Taiwanese gangsters.
In the end, this flick is a weird amalgamation of a bunch of movies, many starring ScarJo herself. We have a bit of Her, a bit of Black Widow, a bit of the Bradley Cooper movie Limitless, not a small bit of the recent Johnny Depp dud Transcendence, it’s got a little 2001, and a healthy dose of anime too.
I recommend this flick highly except you might thing it’s stupid or goes off the rails. If you do, I won’t argue the point. It is a little stupid and if you think its off the rails, I get why. It worked for me. Your results may vary.