Film Review: Lucy is Mindless Summer Fun

Lucy with Scarlett Johansson. Lucy with Scarlett Johansson.

Lucy is the latest film from French filmmaker Luc Besson. It stars Scarlett Johansson in the title role as a young woman who, through a series of extraordinary circumstances, inadvertently absorbs a new and ultra powerful drug which allows her to access substantially more of her brain than other human beings. The movie also co-stars Oscar winner Morgan Freeman who portrays Professor Norman, a neuroscientist who’s enlisted by Lucy to aid in her struggle to understand and utilize her newfound abilities.

Luc Besson is known for writing high octane action flicks such as this years Three Days to Kill, The Fifth Element (1997), and The Transporter (2002). Lucy continues on in this same vein and is firmly rooted in the same genre. Lucy includes a fast-paced storyline, plenty of violent sequences, lots of gunplay, and a riveting car chase through the streets of Paris.



Lucy opens in Taipei, Taiwan where we met the title character, a young student who gets tricked into making a mysterious delivery to a man known simply as Mr. Jang. Soon afterward she’s forced to act as a drug mule and transport a newly created synthetic drug. When this new substance is accidentally released into her body Lucy quickly transforms into a superhuman fighter with exceptional physical as well as intellectual abilities. As she begins to use more and more of her brain capacity the young woman gains new powers as well as the ability to see the world in a totally different way. She also comes to realize that little by little she’s losing aspects of her humanity and doesn’t feel pain or experience emotions like desire or fear.

2014 has been a busy year for Scarlett Johansson. She’s already been seen on the big screen in Under the Skin, Chef, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. An interesting aspect of the films Lucy and Under the Skin is the way in which the two lead characters seem to parallel each other. In Under the Skin Johansson plays an alien who slowly grows to understand what it means to be human while in Lucy the actress portrays a human who once the mystery drugs enter her system becomes increasingly robotic and lacking in emotion.

Unfortunately Lucy is an example of a movie which starts with an interesting premise but is muddled down in terms of poor execution. The ideas put forth in the film relate to lofty concepts such as the nature of time, space, and the power of the human brain but instead of focusing on this subject matter the film relies on formulaic elements such as violence, gun fights, and silly special effects. Although some of the visuals in Lucy are vivid and captivating this material is overshadowed by an abundance of action scenes and unintentionally humorous dialogue.

The basis of Lucy deals with the hypothetical consequences of utilizing a greater percentage of our brain capacity than we do now. Director/writer Luc Besson imagines that this would give us superhero strength, telekinesis, and the ability to absorb enormous amounts of information and access memories dating all the way back to the time of our birth.

Scarlett Johansson is well cast in this film and does a more than capable job in the role of kick ass action star and viewers looking for mindless summer viewing will find that Lucy fits the bill.

Lucy opened July 25.

About C.L. Illsley

I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia but have called Montreal home since 1999. I received degrees from Mount Saint Vincent University & Concordia University. I enjoy writing, watching movies, & most of all spending time with my 4 cats. Contact: Facebook | Twitter | More Posts