Pure entertainment cut with total cobblers
Release Date: 12 January
2014 | 15 | Blu- ray/ DVD Director: Luc Besson Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min- sik, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind- Tutt
use 10% of their potential cerebral capacity, according to one particularly persistent myth. It’s nonsense, of course. Studies have disproved it in numerous ways – the most obvious being that even tiny amounts of brain damage can be truly devastating. Still, it’s a fun premise on which to hang a loopy action movie, and that’s exactly what The Fifth Element director Luc Besson has done with Lucy.
Scarlett Johansson ( in her fourth big genre film of the last year, following three critical and commercial hits with Her, Under The Skin and The Winter Soldier) plays the titular student. When we first meet Lucy, she’s rueing the effects of a big night out and hanging out with her douchey new boyfriend, Richard – a guy with some seriously shady connections and a mysterious briefcase. Clearly nervous about its contents, he cuffs the case to Lucy’s wrist and forces her to deliver it to mob boss Jang ( Oldboy star Choi Min- sik). It doesn’t go well for anyone involved…
Soon, Lucy and a number of other unfortunates have had bags of mysterious new drug CPH4 ( which looks not unlike Walter White’s blue meth from Breaking Bad) implanted into their stomachs. When Lucy’s bag ruptures, the CPH4 gets into her system and begins to unlock the hidden potential of her brain. Within hours she is smarter, faster, stronger – and psychic. She can speak new languages, control TVs by looking at them and make guns fly out of people’s hands. Burning through her vastly reduced lifespan, she has just just 24 hours to find more of the drug and take down Jang ’s gang.
Both Leon and Nikita ably demonstrated Luc Besson’s action chops, and the first half of Lucy feels of a piece with his early hits. It’s fast, action- packed and fun. Jang is an unambiguously evil villain to rival Gary Oldman’s bonkers, cokesnorting turn in Leon, and it’s a pleasure to see Miss Scarlett bring the pain to his goons, even if you can’t shake the feeling that The Matrix did this sort of thing better 15 years ago. Likewise, the mid- movie car chase has a goofy energy thanks to Julien Rey’s kinetic cutting. After years of wishy- washy disappointments, it feels like Besson is returning to his comfort zone with a lean, 86- minute actioner.
You can see the “But…” coming, can’t you?
Lucy’s last third is a shambles. As our heroine unlocks more of her mental powers, the film grinds to a halt and wanders down a pompous, pseudo- profound blind alley. Time travel, supercomputers and columns of black goo enter the mix. Your mind wanders back to the start of the film and its opening shot of an ape in the wild and you realise, with a sudden snort of horrified laughter, that this is Besson taking on Stanley Kubrick. Lucy is his attempt to remake 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with added gunplay and explosions. It stops the drama dead in its tracks and the film’s ruminations on humanity say nothing at all.
Throughout, the impressive cast do their best with thin material. Morgan Freeman is as gravelly and warm as you’d expect, but spends most of the film in front of PowerPoint; he’s there to provide the exposition but gets no dramatic material. Amr Waked comes on, shoots guns, and gets to snog Johannson, but is otherwise forgettable in a part that may as well be named Hero Cop. Jarringly, the most interesting person on screen is Julian Rhind- Tutt who, in his few brief scenes as an overly mannered and polite baddie, walks off with the entire movie. He vanishes 20 minutes in and is never seen again.
Then there’s Scarlett herself. Johansson rarely turns in a less than watchable performance, but there’s
She must have gone “gangster”, what with holding the gun like that.