Friday, August 8, 2014

Lucy Movie Review

One should never trust a movie by its trailer. The director nor the production crew actually makes a movie's trailer. Very often, the movie studio shows us what it thinks we want to see in order to get ticket sales up even if it's a misrepresentation of the movie. Lucy (2014) was marketed as a big budget action movie, but what we were given was something very different. Not necessarily bad, but very different.
It was supposed to be a simple job. All Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) had to do was deliver a mysterious briefcase to Mr. Jang (Min-Sik Choi). But immediately Lucy is caught up in a nightmarish deal where she is captured and turned into a drug mule for a new and powerful synthetic drug called CPH4. When the bag she is carrying inside of her stomach leaks, Lucy's body undergoes  unimaginable changes that unlocks her mind's full potential. With her new-found powers she seeks out the other drug mules to retrieve the CPH4 and further expand her abilities and knowledge. Lucy receives invaluable help from Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), the leading authority on the human mind, and French police captain Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked). With these newfound powers and knowledge, Lucy is at a loss as to what to do with them. She suspects that between the mob tracking her down and the affects of the drug on her physiology she may not have much time left to live.
Lucy and Limitless are very similar in premise. Both allege that we use only 10% of our brain and that great abilities and achievements can be reached if we can use a greater percent of it. This is a stupid myth that has no basis. But as I said in my Limitless review, it is grounds for potentially interesting sci-fi stories.
Lucy is not the action flick we were promised in the trailers. In fact, I think all of the action scenes in the movie were in the trailer itself. Even then, the action wasn't always riveting. It's interesting because the director, Luc Besson, also directed The Fifth Element and that was an action packed movie. Lucy acts as a vehicle to illustrate a philosophical idea. During a high-speed car ride through Paris, Captain Del Rio is trying to stay calm and tell Lucy, who is driving, "I'd rather be late than dead." to which Lucy responds, "We never really die."  In fact, the movie tells us point blank at the end of the movie, "Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what to do with it." Lucy's interpretation of life is interesting, but I hardly felt like I knew what to do with my life afterwards. It wasn't much of an action movie, and while it threw around interesting ideas I don't think it was all that great of a philosophical movie either.
One of the weirder things that was done early on in the movie was random cutaway shots of animals. It made sense, but I felt it was redundant. At the opening of the movie, Lucy's scumbag boyfriend is trying to get her to take the locked suitcase full of drugs into the hotel for Mr. Jang. This cuts away to a mouse approaching a baited mouse trap. A few moments later when the mob is closing in to abduct Lucy, it cuts away to national geographic stock footage of a cheetah stocking an antelope, and again with the cheetah dragging the captured prey after the mob has picked her up. Yes, we know it's a trap, we know she's been caught. Why make this wildlife analogy? It interrupted the flow of the movie and took the audience out of the movie by showing them something non-sequitur. Fortunately they stopped doing this early on; I'm not sure why that bit of randomness lasted through the editing process.
There were several scenes that I would have done differently had I been the director. Later on in the movie Lucy's powers have made her so removed from normal humans that she begins to lose her humanity. Given that, in a scene where the mob has her at gunpoint, it would have made more sense to have her make the gunmen each shoot themselves. That would have been gross and not something I'd like to watch, but would have better illustrated how far removed she has become from her humanity. But instead she makes the guns levitate out of the gunman's hands. There was some lost potential in several scenes.
Lucy is rated R, but it is a tame R. There was little profanity and some minor suggested sexuality; I've seen much worse in PG-13 movies. Really this movie gets the R rating from the violent action, and I didn't think there was a lot of that. There's some pretty overt blood splatter and gore resulting from gunplay and blade weapons in two or three scenes. I've seen much gorier stuff, but apart from these scenes, this really isn't that bad. If the violence had been toned down just a little it would have safely been PG-13. Still, it's not something to take young viewers to, and if you're put off by some graphic gunplay you may want to skip this movie.
Lucy was nowhere near what the trailer promised us, but if you can get around the marketing's bait-and-switch, it's not a bad movie. I'm glad I saw it, I'd be up for a second viewing. What Besson has done here is taken a silly concept and elevated it to a level that can best be described as insane poetry. It tries hard to be philosophical, but wasn't as deep as it thinks it is. It was marketed as an action movie, but it's not all that action packed. The action was good, but it wasn't the point of the movie. Johansen is amazing as ever, and her performance makes all the nonsense more believable than it otherwise might be. I'd recommend seeing this if you can handle a few short scenes of blood and gore, but it's a renter.

I know you are already using 100% of your brain, but in the whimsical world of sci-fi, what would you do if you could unlock 100% of your brain as was done in Lucy? Comment below and tell me about it!

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