In the 90’s, French director Luc Besson was most well-known for his films starring kick-ass female action heroes, which included films like ‘Nikita’, ‘Leon: The Professional’, and ‘The Fifth Element’. But for the most part, Besson hasn’t really done much in terms of directing for most of the 2000’s and early 2010’s. Instead, he’s spent most of his recent time as a producer for a number of films, most notably the ‘Transporter’ and ‘Taken’ franchises. But it’s looking like Besson is on the verge of make a directorial comeback and his newest project, ‘Lucy’, is the latest film of his centered on a female action hero and really, what better choice is there right now for a role like this than Scarlett Johansson, who of course is on a roll right now as Agent Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow in Marvel Studios’ Cinematic Universe after appearing in ‘Iron Man 2’, ‘The Avengers’, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, and the upcoming ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. And in the end, it truly is because of Johansson’s performance in the title role that ‘Lucy’ manages to be a fun little action thriller. But here’s the thing… don’t go into this film expecting a smart sci-fi action film because you’re really not going to get it here and how much you’ll enjoy this film will more than likely depend on whether or not you’re willing to accept that.
The film begins as Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), an American student currently living in Taipei, Taiwan, is asked by her new boyfriend to deliver a briefcase to his employer, gangster/drug lord Jang (Choi Min-sik). Not wanting to do it, she is tricked into doing the job anyway, which ends up taking a really dark turn at her expense once she meets with Jang. It turns out that the contents of the briefcase are bags of a synthetic drug known as CPH4 which, when used, enhance the user’s brain-function capacity. One of the containers is then implanted into Lucy’s stomach as she is then forced into being a drug mule for the mob so that they can transport the drugs overseas in order to sell them in various European cities. While in captivity, the drugs inadvertently leak into her system, resulting in her acquiring new mental/physical capabilities as her neural capacity begins to expand. She soon realizes, however, that she needs more of the drug in order for her to continue to expand her neural capacity and that she will soon die because of rapid cell growth that is occurring in her system due to the drugs. This leads her on a mission to recover the drugs before Jang and his henchman can get them back.
It’s generally been proven already that the main premise of this film is a ‘fallacy’... in other words the premise for this is really scientifically inaccurate. Basically in this film they’re saying that we only access 10% of our brain’s capacity and while it is sort of true that all the parts of the brain aren’t all active at one given time, this film is implying that we only use 10% of those parts when that is not true; all of the parts of our brains get used at one point or another. But even with that in mind, the film is an enjoyably fun little action thriller that goes by pretty fast at just under 90 minutes so it’s not like the film overstays its welcome or anything. The action scenes are pretty good and well-shot, the film does hold your interest from beginning to end, and there’s also a surprisingly decent amount of humor in this, which mainly stems from ordinary people reacting to the amazing things that Lucy can do once she develops these telekinetic powers (which are pretty cool). But like I said earlier, you really have to get past the fact that, to put it bluntly, this is a very, very stupid action thriller and the ending in particular, which I won’t spoil, is where things get really, really weird.
After proving herself to be a legitimately kick-ass action star in the MCU, Scarlett Johansson steals the show here and is easily the best part of the whole film. She provides the right amount of charm and resilience in the lead role of Lucy, both of these traits being part of what made Black Widow such a great part of the MCU films she was in and the transition she has in this going from the scared student in over her head to the ultimate badass is done pretty well. She’s so good that she basically overshadows anyone else in this movie. In fact, the only other notable actor in this movie that most of you are likely to recognize is Morgan Freeman, who does a fine enough job here in what is quite frankly a fairly insignificant role (which I hate to say is sort of becoming a trend with him recently which is a shame because he’s such a great actor) as a professor whose research Lucy utilizes at one point in the movie. However, the rest of the cast does a good job as well with some solid performances from Choi Min-sik (who film fans are very likely to recognize as the lead from the original ‘Oldboy’ (not the Spike Lee remake)), even though his character is just your typical evil drug-lord, and Amr Waked as a police officer who assists Lucy during her mission.
I’m going to sum up this movie ‘Lucy’ in just two words: dumb fun. If you’re willing to accept the fact that this is an action thriller based around a scientific premise that has been proven false, then I feel that you’ll probably enjoy this movie. But even with that in mind, the science in this is still really dumb and things get quite bizarre by the end of it. However, the film does manage to make up for that by managing to be a fun little action thriller that is well-shot and has some pretty good action sequences. Of course, at the end of the day, this film is highlighted by Scarlett Johansson’s performance in the lead role. She has become a great female action star and hopefully Marvel will give her a ‘Black Widow’ spin-off film sometime soon (I too want to see that happen; I guess you can say I want to see it happen as much as Johansson herself does) because I think that she has proven that she is capable of holding her own in an action movie and this film is a pretty solid example of that. It may not be as good as the MCU films that she was in but overall I’d say it’s at least worth checking out. But again, just make sure you know what you’re getting yourselves into here in regards to the science behind it because it doesn’t help this movie in any way.