Everything you’ve heard about “Lucy” (2014) is correct — it’s exactly as trite and nonsensical as its multitude of unfavorable reviews have described it. Maybe this was intended as some sort of weird, meta, inside joke by writer and director Luc Besson … after all, it’s a movie about increased “brain capacity” that is, ironically, really dumb.
I can’t imagine why Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman would sully their reputations by starring in this film. Although, sadly, even the wonderful Johansson is not at her best here. She seems to try to portray increased intelligence by delivering some of her lines like a robot. (Seriously, she reads some of her lines like a speedy automaton, and it’s a bad creative decision for her performance.)
I could go on and on about the silly things in this movie. So could you, if you’ve seen it. But it’s a lot more fun listening to the surly wise-asses over at Cinema Sins. Their trademark “Everything Wrong With” video for “Lucy” is particularly harsh. At one point they call it “an aggressive dickhead of a movie.” Here’s the link:
There is one overriding problem I need to address myself … and that’s how its premise seems to relate so little to the events of the story. We begin by understanding that the titular Lucy is affected by a drug that increases her brain capacity. Before the movie reaches its halfway mark, she appears to gain omniscience. (She doesn’t need to actually learn anything — she simply knows virtually everything already. This is evinced by her ability to translate foreign languages instantly, with no books or instruction at all.) She also appears omnipotent by the film’s end. Her powers become literally godlike. And I’m not talking about Thor or Odin from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — we’re talking the all-powerful, Old Testament God of Abraham.
Why? Why should increased intelligence, no matter how incredibly vast, give her power of matter, space and even time? If she were as smart as a thousand Stephen Hawkings, she still shouldn’t be able to do the things she does in the movie.
Believe it or not, I’d rate this movie a 4 out of 10. (That’s far kinder than the other reviews I’ve read.) I managed to have fun with this movie by rewriting some of it in my head while I watched. Instead of Lucy benefiting from a drug that increases her brain capacity (which borrows a bit from 2011’s excellent “Limitless,” anyway), I pretended that I was watching a movie in which Scarlett Johansson became God. (Think of 2003’s “Bruce Almighty.”) Honestly. I swapped out the plot device in my head, and imagined a different movie. That made it fun — watching Scarlett Johansson as a wrathful God was strangely satisfying, especially when she wreaks havoc on the bad guys.
And speaking of bad guys … that is actually one thing that this otherwise clueless movie manages to get right. No, I’m not kidding — the Taipei gangsters that serve as the story’s antagonists were performed to perfection by their actors. The villains were repulsive and terrifying, and they aroused more interest in me than the good guys. Min-sik Choi was terrific as the homicidal patriarch of the Taiwanese crime syndicate. Even better, though, was Nicolas Phongbeth as the cherubic-faced, vaguely androgynous, sociopathic lieutenant. If they were vanquished in this brainless movie, it’d be nice to see them resurrected in a James Bond film or a season of Fox’s “24.” It’s weird seeing a movie so bad do one important thing so successfully.
There are really only two reasons why anybody should see “Lucy.” One is morbid curiosity. Two is if they are a learning to be a screenwriter, and are looking for a feature-length example of what NOT to do.