It’s said that human beings use only ten percent of their brains. Not by scientists mind you, but it is said. Nevertheless, ten percent might just be the ideal brain efficiency to get the most out Luc Besson’s action thriller Lucy.
The film’s premise derives from this very urban legend: when Scarlett Johansson’s character Lucy is forced into a delivery job she doesn’t want, she finds herself unwillingly promoted to drug mule for a new type of high. Using her abdomen as a holdall, she prepares herself to transport the bag of powder, but before she can so much as hand over her boarding pass, the bag has split and Lucy is on the path to complete brain efficiency.
The premise of a person reaching their complete mental capacity has been used before, most recently in 2011’s Limitless, but the film starts strong, as Johansson begins to play out a stylised bourne identity, with plenty identity of its own. Sadly, as Lucy’s journey to omnipotence continues, the concept gels increasingly poorly with the film’s serious tone.
Johansson herself has proven time and time again to be one of the most exciting actors in Hollywood, starring in the jaw dropping Under the Skin and the beautiful Her in the last 12 months alone. But despite an incredibly emotionally engaging performance in the film’s first act, she is quickly relegated to a one note, robot-like performance for the film’s remainder.
Supporting cast members fare little better: Morgan Freeman plays Morgan Freeman as a calm, emotionally sensitive scientist with almost nothing to do, while Amr Waked is cast as an FBI agent and sort-of love interest, but has little screen time and makes no lasting impression. Oldboy’s Min-sik Choi is a highlight, proving he still bristles with the same intensity and menace of his previous work, maintaining high levels of threat throughout the film despite his foe’s inordinate power.
The film’s saving grace is the style it has by the bucket load, with a brand of cinematography that’s rarely subtle, but is consistently impactful. Visual elements are uneven and occasionally hit and miss, but, more often than not, both CGI and practical effects are stunning.
Lucy was never likely to be a classic, but with a strong cast, an interesting visual style, and a director with sci fi pedigree, it seemed set to be a thoughtful action thriller of substance. Unfortunately the film disappoints on multiple fronts and never quite gets past its own daft premise, which is only accentuated by the film’s preposterous final act.
Joe Manners Lewis
Lucy is released nationwide on 22nd August 2014.
Watch the trailer for Lucy here: