Imagine if human beings could utilise their brain to its full potential. It’s an interesting concept, one which we’ve seen before – in 2011 with ‘Limitless’ – and one which has been revisited rather prematurely with ‘Lucy’. It is particularly odd that the idea has been used again so quickly, when you consider the positive manner in which ‘Limitless’ was received; a lot to live up to. From the looks of things, ‘Lucy’ is basically Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow hitting new levels of badass. With a short run time and pretty impressive headline acts, I’m all set for what should be a powerful, action-packed watch.
The movie follows our protagonist Lucy (Johansson), who gets wrapped up in a Taiwanese mafia drug deal, where she is forced to smuggle the highly dangerous CH4 drug to the West. The drug, based on a hormonal chemical which stimulates rapid development in a foetus during pregnancy, allows users to access 100% of their cerebral capacity. Of course, Lucy has a reaction to the drug and becomes a little too much to handle. Those pesky Taiwanese criminals have created a monster. There follows lots of chase scenes, fighting and deaths in the attempts to retrieve the drugs, but the omnipotent Lucy also develops a penchant for violence and an apathetic disregard for the victims of her destructive behaviour. With time running out for Lucy, she opts for martyrdom, and with the help of evolutionary scientist Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), decides to travel through time and educate the world.
Scarlett Johansson becomes very robotic after her superhuman transformation, which is probably intentional, but left me feeling rather disengaged with the whole narrative. Her indefatigable, relentless character makes it hard to have any kind of connection, or for that matter, any interest in her story. I think you should stick to aliens and The Avengers Scarlett, much more relatable. Morgan Freeman could (and probably should) have featured more in the film. That way, he might have been able to rescue the film from absolute absurdity. I’m personally surprised he went along with it all in the first place. But I guess you either quit at the top, or act long enough to find yourself involved in a few disasters.
From the very first moments, ‘Lucy’ just seems to be a poorly thought-out, rushed and bizarre project. The opening scenes featuring nature documentary footage should have been a hint as to what would follow. The whole thing is overly fantastical and ludicrous, compensated for by means of the laughable Taiwanese mafia villains. Whilst watching, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was just watching a wacky, low-budget Kung-Fu film. Full of gimmicks and cliché moments – montage sequences, car chases and cheap gun fights – I soon wished the short run time was even shorter. Director Luc Besson, trusted with a $40m budget, clearly saved the majority of this for the final five minute crescendo. Dinosaurs Luc, really?
If you want to watch a film about the potential of the human mind, ‘Limitless’ should remain your go-to flick. It’s hard not to compare ‘Lucy’ and ‘Limitless’, with such similar concepts, but where ‘Limitless’ succeeds in being more grounded to reality whilst maintaining an air of excitement, ‘Lucy’ takes a dive into the ridiculous and just keeps falling.
DIRECTOR: LUC BESSON
STARRING: SCARLETT JOHANSSON, MORGAN FREEMAN