Sunday, 24 August 2014

Film Review: Lucy (2014)

Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi

Here’s a classic example of a single high concept idea which has no right being turned into a feature length film. The fact that Lucy offers the viewer nothing new in terms of storytelling, visuals, and action might not be quite so unforgivable if the film actually had something to say about its concept, but it doesn’t, and as a result we’re left with one of the worst films of the year.

At only 89 minutes, Lucy is at least an hour too long and all the blame for this disastrous outing can be aimed firmly at writer and director Luc Besson for the dialogue he wrote is atrocious, character development is a non-starter, the action scenes are without a shred of innovation or originality, and nothing makes any sense. The concept is certainly interesting; what would happen if a human were able to access 100% of their cognitive ability when, in reality, we only use 10%. The titular Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) has this ability after being forced to take a drug, but Besson’s film rapidly derails once Lucy evolves past human capabilities for several reasons, chiefly that there is no reason for the film to then exist for there is no cause or consequence of anything which follows. Nothing is at stake when a character is invincible from early on and watching Lucy work her way to 100% is a thankless and pointless exercise because it serves no purpose and says nothing about humanity in the process despite some failed attempts to do so.

The idea becomes too ridiculous to hold any interest when the possibilities of her powers are endless; when the film should be challenging us intellectually it instead embarks on a would-be thriller plot involving groups of characters we know nothing about. Quite why anyone other than Lucy is in the film is a mystery yet Besson wants to make an action picture at the same time so these people are forced upon us. The action elements only exist to pad out the running time and if they were in the slightest bit exciting I could possibly ignore their extraneous existence, but they are woefully executed. Besson directs the action film with the same lack of care and basic visual understanding which has been displayed in many of the films he has produced and it’s not something I expect from a man who showed just how gifted he is with films such as Leon, The Big Blue, Angel-A, and Nikita.

It doesn’t help when Besson is copying the visual style of The Matrix infused with the disregard for geographical awareness of Michael Bay, whilst occasionally cutting back to shots of animals hunting in a miserably failed attempt to be an artist. Furthermore, some of the visual representations of what Lucy is seeing make no sense whatsoever; she sees things in the minds of others which those people could never have seen. Besson assumes we’ll be too engaged with the story to notice, but he’s fooling no one throughout the entirety of his awful film.

Again, this only serves to show how Lucy is nothing more than an idea, there is no story to tell or film to make and I cannot see what a talented star like Scarlett Johansson saw in the script. She is given nothing to do and, sadly, puts in a performance which matches to suit the quality of the film; I completely understand Johansson wanting to star in her own action picture to balance out the smaller pictures such as Under The Skin, Her, and Don Jon but this is far below where she should be aiming. As for Morgan Freeman, he doesn’t so much act as stand and read lines; his only purpose is to serve as an exposition dump and even here Besson doesn’t even attempt to hide this. Besson thinks “Let’s make one character a professor and professors give lectures and lectures involve lots of uninterrupted talking, all of which gives my audience some background on the capacity of the human mind which frees up my time to shoot flat action sequences! OK, now someone hand Morgan Freeman a suitcase filled with money and that’s that taken care of.”

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: With The Family Besson has now made two atrocious films back to back and needs to focus his talents on something which has a purpose because he’s one step away from turning into Olivier Megaton (Taken 2 director) and that is alarming. Simply put, Lucy is a stain on the careers of everyone involved and the sooner it is forgotten, the better.

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