Luc Besson’s films haven’t received much praise over the past few years and unfortunately his latest release, Lucy, does nothing to change that fact. Starring both Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman, this film had the potential to be pretty darn great, but it fell short at just about every hurdle. The film follows the story of Lucy, a student who is captured and forced into becoming a drug mule when a packet of a new drug, CPH4, sewn into her abdomen. Her story takes a turn for the worse when she is violently attacked, causing the drugs packet inside of her to burst, releasing very large amounts of the drug, which increases the user’s brain function capacity, into her bloodstream. Lucy immediately begins to develop powerful mental talents such as telekinesis, the ability to absorb information instantaneously and mental time travel amongst other things.
The fact that Lucy passed under the radar in terms of popular summer film releases surprised me at first, but on seeing the film, this surprise quickly evaporated. Whilst the plot is intriguing and there are some superb special effects, the two don’t quite mesh together and the film begins to crumble as soon as it begins. Typical of Besson’s films, there are a number of interesting special effects, and its visual nature makes it an attractive piece, yet the attempt to combine complex action sequences with what could have been an intricate and intelligent story about the capacity of the human brain results in a muddle (a beautiful muddle, but a muddle nonetheless).
Of course, audiences don’t need (or often want) a comprehensive explication of the science behind these sorts of films, but Besson doesn’t even provide enough information to support a basic understanding of what viewers are seeing. He leaves the audience completely baffled as to what exactly is going on for all 89 minutes of this film.
One of the key issues in this film is the fact that it seems just too ambitious. In his ‘Statement of Intent’, Besson compares Lucy to Nolan’s Inception. Really, Besson? This film seems lost and misguided, unsure of where it’s going and what it’s trying to be. At several points through the film, the audience would burst into laughter, but whether Besson intended this is unclear. I certainly wouldn’t classify Lucy as a comedy.
While it begins with promise, with suggestions of a complex plot in the vein of a serious thriller, it swiftly degenerates into a slew of meaningless action sequences reminiscent of Besson’s Hitman.
The film’s only saving grace is Scarlett Johansson, whose performance is nuanced both when destroying her enemies and in the film’s quieter moments. Yet while the acting is commendable, without a coherent plot to support it, it all goes to waste.
Indeed, Lucy has received very mixed reviews from critics since its release, but a lot of those reviews tend to be along the lines of ‘it’s better than expected’. I would argue that that doesn’t equal ‘worth watching’. All in all, Lucy had the potential to be a great film, but its poor execution left me feeling confused and disappointed.