MOVIE REVIEW: LUCY / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: LUC BESSON / SCREENPLAY: LUC BESSON / STARRING: SCARLETT JOHANSSON, MORGAN FREEMAN / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 22ND
Scarlett Johansson is sitting happily on top of the world right now. Thanks to her stunning performances as Black Widow in three Marvel Studios movies, she can land almost any role she wants. Unfortunately, her latest film, Lucy, falls far short of the quality standards she usually upholds and ranks as one of the most underwhelming movies of the year. Not only does the movie bore at every turn, it is populated by characters and events we really don't care about. Director and screenwriter Luc Besson takes a fun idea and dulls the sharpness of the material, bludgeoning viewers with his own muddled vision and lack of clear direction instead of providing a cognitively stimulating moviegoing experience.
After her new boyfriend tricks her into delivering a suitcase with unknown content to a vicious Korean crime lord, Lucy finds herself running out of time. When things naturally go sour, she discovers that she is carrying a powerful synthetic drug in her lower abdomen. As the drug begins to enter her system, Lucy is able to access more and more of her cerebral capacity, giving her astounding abilities that pose more questions than answers about the power of the human brain.
Johansson delivers a passable performance as the titular character, struggling to make it memorable. Lucy herself is just too dull. She goes from crying for the film's first twenty minutes to spending the rest of the movie staring blankly into space, an emotional range that encourages indifference towards her and pretty much eliminates any investment we may have had in the protagonist. As usual, Morgan Freeman essentially plays Morgan Freeman: an expert, specialist, or consultant in a certain field who spends the movie saying cool things in a cool voice. He plays this part well, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Morgan Freeman is one of the only Hollywood actors who is consistently typecast as himself, and it's disappointing that Besson expresses no desire to help this incredible performer expand his horizons. The film's supporting cast does little to nothing to hold up its leads, showing an alarming lack of interest in a movie that tries so hard to be something different.
The film's biggest (and only) selling point is its intriguing concept. A drug that helps the user (or carrier) access ALL of their brain capacity? That's a seriously cool idea, but Besson tackles it with a clumsiness that becomes apparent very quickly. It's all just uninteresting, scientific jargon that makes so many vain attempts to wow an audience that will likely come away indifferent and underwhelmed.
As it turns out, the movie's strongest aspect is its handling of Lucy's deterioration from the drug. There's an admittedly terrific scene in an airplane bathroom where Lucy begins to shed her human appearance and disintegrate, losing the symmetry in her face in the process and almost disappearing completely before putting herself back together. It's the most captivating scene in the film, but enjoy it while it lasts, for directly following comes even more tedium.
As far as thrillers go, Lucy could have been great. Instead, it's a classic example of an amazing concept that suffers from poor execution and an almost criminal lack of inspiration or emotional resonance of any kind. Unless you're a diehard Johansson fan, it might be a good idea to skip this one.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10
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