Movie Review: “Lucy” Is Director Luc Besson At His Best


Review by James McDonald

A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

“Léon: The Professional” is one of my all-time favorite movies. Jean Reno, Natalie Portman and Gary Oldman have never been better. Director Luc Besson crafted a terrific thriller with some amazing action set-pieces and a beautiful camaraderie between Léon and Mathilda. With “Lucy”, Mr. Besson gives us another exciting fish-out-of-water-tale where the action takes place at various locations around the world including Taiwan and Paris. Lucy (Scarlet Johansson) lives in Taipei City and when her sleazy boyfriend Richard (Pilou Asbæk) asks her to do a seemingly easy task, deliver a briefcase to the front desk of a nearby hotel, she initially refuses, citing tiredness. As she is about to head home, he cuffs her hand to the briefcase so that she has no choice but to deliver said baggage.

Reluctantly, she enters the hotel lobby and that’s when her whole world is turned upside down. Richard is killed and she is knocked unconscious and when she awakes, she is informed that a package loaded with a powerful synthetic substance, has been implanted inside of her stomach and that in order to survive, she must be at a specific location on the other side of the world within the next few days where they will retrieve the packet. When it accidentally leaks inside of her, her cerebral capability is unlocked to astonishing, and previously theoretical levels which allows her to use more than the “normal” 10% of her brain’s capacity, thereby changing her into a superhuman. Under these circumstances, Lucy can absorb information immediately, move objects with her mind and choose not to feel pain or other discomforts, in addition to other abilities.

Scarlet Johansson is superb in the titular role. When we first meet her, she is easygoing and good-humored but as she undergoes the mental and physical transformation into an almost supernatural being, she absorbs a heightened awareness and a steely tenacity and alertness that any scientist would die for. Of course, this is science fiction and the movie states that most humans only use about 10% of their brain’s capacity but then the movie asks, what could we achieve if we could utilize the full 100%? Like “The Matrix” before it, “Lucy” indulges in a lot of scientific speak with some philosophical and analytic contemplation thrown in but it also employs some cleverly-written movie lingo that sounds plausible and feasible as you’re watching the movie.

Director Luc Besson has an eye for choreographing beautifully orchestrated action and “Lucy” is no exception. The movie is full of wonderfully over-the-top car chases, fight scenes and a very believable heroine in Ms. Johansson. Morgan Freeman can never do wrong, whether he’s playing a good guy or a bad guy and here he is on top of his game, especially in the few scenes that he and Ms. Johansson share together onscreen. I was slightly disappointed however with the movie’s finale. Without giving anything away, it felt like the film was gradually building towards a definitive resolution but then it suddenly switched gears and went in the opposite direction. I feel like this aspect of the movie will divide audiences but in the end, it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of one of this summer’s best movies.

In theaters now

Lucy Movie POster

James McDonald
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  1. July 25, 2014
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