I’ve talked briefly about this movie before in my other column:
So Lucy, at its heart, is a modern superhero origin story. And in another universe, where Luc Besson had decided to not be aggressively stupid and done a quick google search, it might not have been so nauseating. In Lucy, Scarlett Johanson plays a drug mule living in Taiwan. One day, her stomach is stuffed with a synthetic drug. Long story short, the bag breaks open and the drug gives Lucy powers. The absolutely dick-wad explanation is of course the long-since busted “You only use 10% of your brain” myth.
Most directors have a signature style, Tarantino films feel like each other, Wes Anderson films feel like Wes Anderson- but Lucy doesn’t feel like a Luc Besson film. Now, his films frequently pee into the face of science- but they usually do it in such a fantastical and casual manner that it’s clear they’re only obeying the “Rule of Cool” law of nature. But here’s the thing- Lucy takes itself seriously. Stupidly seriously. Have you seen Gary Oldman’s performance in The Professional? It’s clear he’s having fun. No one is having any fun in Lucy– least of all ME.
It has some of the most pretentiously douchey dialogue I have ever heard in my life. At the end of the movie, after ScarJo has become a supercomputer through her powers (seriously), she delivers the final line of the movie via voiceover:
“Life was given to us a billion years ago, and now you know what to do with it.”
“Hey, Luc, this is a really fucking stupid line. I’m going to puncture the eardrums of my children as they sleep tonight so they don’t have to ever hear this uttered by human lips.” This is a line that intro film students write when they attempt to wax poetic.
Also, no we don’t know what to do with it, Lucy! Unless what we’re supposed to do with life is take magic drugs.
But I digress, I said that Lucy is an attempt at a modern superhero origin story. And if it dialed it down a little I think it really could have worked. If you want to see a great modern superhero tale, go check out Chronicle. It’s almost a decent American version of Akira, and one of the few bad things I can say about it is the found-footage format.
There’s no sense to the origin of her powers- and no reason it has to be that. It’s not like in Limitless where the powers are specifically intelligence-based. She travels through time and changes her goddamn hair color. Better yet? Why even give us a reason? Again, I’ll reference Chronicle, where they don’t even explain the kids’ powers. And you know what? Everyone was fine with the lack of explanation- we get it. They get powers, the why isn’t as important as what they do with it. Notice how in Harry Potter, they never bother to explain how magic works or where it comes from? It’s just part of the willing suspense of disbelief.
As it stands, Lucy is not worth paying any sort of currency for- not even the money from Pokemon Monopoly. The performances are faxed in and the plot is childish. Instead, go and check out Guardians of the Galaxy. And meanwhile, be sure to check out my science column: Trope-ic Thunder.
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