The Mind Boggles
Is Lucy the most insane thriller of the year? Well, if other filmmakers want to catch it they better get their product into cinemas quick smart. It’s not difficult to imagine Luc Besson sitting at home, watching the Bradley Cooper brain-fill flick, Limitless, and lamenting the no one had the guile to turn the concept of a human at full operation up to 11. There can be no doubt that this gap in the market has been now been comprehensively filled. Lucy is a barnstorming, breakneck bullshitfest; a dummy stuffed with pseudoscience. It’s also the most entertaining film Besson’s made in years.
Far superior, in directorial terms, than the back-of-napkin stories Besson’s farmed out to other directors of late, Lucy has the brass neck to run with its oddball concept to the periphery of madness, and peer over the edge. The script may be scientifically clueless; a cut and shut of half-baked ideas pertaining to evolution, primal urges, cell biology, matter and time; with much of it reading like the blackboard scribblings of a drug addict (time is the true organising principle of the universe but attempts to quantify the same using crude human constructs like maths, figures – indeed, our concept of time, are fallacious and simplistic – er, what?), but to despise it for this reason is like sending James Whale a cease and desist for his misrepresentation of electricity’s effects on dead bodies.
Besson doesn’t give a Chris Tucker if any of it makes sense, he simply wants to invest Scarlett Johansson’s titular blonde with superhuman powers, including the ability to pluck a phone call from the air and read it with her fingers, change her hair with a thought, levitate bodies, oh yes, and travel back in time. Neurologists will despair while general audiences will enjoy the audacious silliness.
Given the absurdity, the lapses in plot logic are also academic, but every so often Besson’s cavalier attitude to the unfolding lunacy gives you pause. If we’re flummoxed that Lucy’s super-brain turns her from a vivacious feminoid to a robotic bore who speaks as though her lines were written by a Frenchman who’d yet to embrace the syntactical dexterity of English, “I’ll build a computer and put my knowledge in it”, or that all the universe’s secrets, a billion years’ worth, can be uploaded to a finger long USB (what ordinary man made computer’s going to have a hard drive capable of opening the file?), we’re floored by her adversary’s attitude.
Mr Jang, the man who turned Lucy into a drug mule then left her with an apprentice rapist who kicked her stomach and caused his experimental product to leak into her body, is intent on killing Johansson at all costs. It’s not clear Jang either understands or cares what his distilled womb essence can do to the brain, “unleashing the power of an atomic bomb”, but once it becomes apparent that Lucy is a genius with telekinetic powers and the ability to reshape matter, surely any sensible overlord would want to harness those abilities for himself, or at least find out what was going on? Instead, like a true crime king pin, he couldn’t care less about the latest stage in our evolution, he simply wants to put a bullet in Lucy’s expanded brain. This undercuts the movie’s jeopardy somewhat, as we don’t for a second believe he can hurt a woman who can wash the colour from a room with her mind.
Perhaps in a movie pregnant with excess, Besson thought the clash of two superhumans, each vying for supremacy and the chance to be the first to hit 100% brain potential, was too much, but the movie as made doesn’t provide our enhanced heroine with any significant impediments, unless you count logic. Let this review be the start of a petition for a sequel in which Morgan Freeman tries to get the information of that memory stick. Let Besson wrap his mind round that one.