Luc Besson, the iconic director behind: ‘Léon: The Professional,’ ‘The Fifth Element’ and ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ returns to the sci-fi genre with ‘Lucy,’ a very strange and original science fiction thriller focusing on a young woman whose intellect begins to evolve after being kidnapped, eventually transforming her into something more than human. Although this interesting plot does feel like a departure from what we usually expect within this genre, I personally feel this doesn’t always work within the film’s favour.
Plot Summary: After a young woman (Lucy) gets accidentally caught in a drug deal, she is captured and taken to the feet of a powerful drug lord. Before long, she finds herself a victim of illegal drug trafficking, in which an experimental synthetic drug is implanted inside her lower abdomen to transport it into Europe. But when the blue chemical leaks into her bloodstream, she turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless creature that has evolved beyond human logic…
Even though the narrative of: ‘Lucy’ is definitely a unique one, I personally feel the film doesn’t explore its various ideas and concepts as effectively as it could, as ‘Lucy’ introduces a number of interesting elements when it comes to human evolution, usually without ever fully releasing them. The film does still manage to contain plenty of astonishing and colourful visuals as well as a few memorable scenes throughout its runtime, yet it simply isn’t enough to save the film from the issues that litter its story, despite the film’s screenplay being in development for over nine years.
The film’s protagonist: ‘Lucy’ is portrayed fairly well by Scarlett Johansson, as she gives a very robotic and cold performance throughout the film the more intelligent her character becomes. However, the character of: ‘Lucy’ is actually one of the film’s biggest missteps, as throughout the narrative, ‘Lucy’ always feels incredibly underdeveloped, as we barely spend any time with her before she begins to evolve after being contaminated with the chemical. Meaning she quickly turns into a calculating killing machine without emotion, as a result of this, it’s extremely difficult to connect with her, or even like her, as we are given very little characterisation before her change. The supporting cast of Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked, and Pilou Asbæk are all decent, with the exception of Min-sik Choi as the film’s antagonist: ‘Mr. Jang,’ who actually gives the brutal drug lord a very intimidating presence despite his limited screen-time.
Thierry Arbogast’s cinematography unfortunately, doesn’t really reflect the film’s many creative CG effects, as although the film does contain the occasional pleasing shot, they are simply too few and far between, with an strong over-reliance on shot-reverse-shot during many scenes. ‘Lucy’ also contains some fairly unusual editing, as the film constantly cuts away to symbolic images of animals, the environment, populated cities and cells materialising etc. And even though this does give the film some style, it also makes some scenes come across as unintentionally comedic.
The original score by Eric Serra, plays very well into the film’s story, as this fitting techno score alters over the course of the film, with tracks such as: ‘First Cells’ and ‘Taipei Airport’ feeling very unique, not too different from the film’s story itself. My personal favourite track has to be ‘Flickering Through Time,’ however, as this beautiful yet haunting piece plays over one of the film’s most memorable and effective scenes as ‘Lucy’ soars through time.
Although the CG effects do range in quality throughout the film, ‘Lucy’ does get very inventive with its visuals when it comes to its CGI, as the film features an array of colourful and trippy CG effects the further ‘Lucy’ evolves, which does help redeem ‘Lucy’s lack of scientific accuracy (which the film has actually been heavily criticised for since its release). As whilst I personally don’t feel being less-accurate to real-world science is a problem when it comes to science fiction. ‘Lucy’ rests a large amount of its story on the idea that humans only use 10% of their brains, which has actually been debunked by neurological scientists many times over, as humans typically use about 10%-12% of their brains at a time.
In short, whilst I’m sure ‘Lucy’ had the potential to be an eccentric and original sci-fi flick at one point in time, the film’s cons simply outweigh its pros, in my opinion. From its cheesy dialogue through to its poor editing choices and flawed story, ‘Lucy’ feels almost as if it gets bogged-down by itself, almost becoming a little too pretentious for its own good. While I do appreciate the film’s more ‘out there’ story and great original score, I’d recommend you stick to ‘The Fifth Element’ for your fill of a Luc Besson sci-fi. Final Rating: 4/10.