Pure en­ter­tain­ment cut with to­tal cob­blers

SFX - - DVD & Blu-Ray -

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

Hu­mans only

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.

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