Luc Besson’s latest entry into genre cinema is perhaps not his best (which this reviewer maintains simply must be The Fifth Element, with District 13 taking a close second). The experience watching Lucy is about as jarring as watching Spring Breakers, and perhaps the concept is equally as jarring.
A young woman from the United States living abroad (Scarlet Johanson) accidently becomes tied up in a Taiwanese drug dealing scheme which changes her life. After a brutal and uncomfortable to watch assault, the drugs find their way into her system and she slowly gains access to all the commonly-unused portions of the brain. This gives her the ability to manipulate people and matter, and see or understand things people typically do not.
This led to a seeming endless number of monologues by Johannson. Monologues on the human state, understanding, development and flaws. These monogies are spaced between fight sequences that seem more tired and old than watching The Matrix for the 207th time and pull directly from the book of every other genre-film fight sequence created for the screen in the past two decades. It is painful to see Johannson, with her talent and grace, stuck in the role of being a highly effective but uninteresting pawn.
Perhaps equally painful is seeing the masterful skill of Morgan Freeman put to waste in the role of a brain science professor who, you guessed it, gives a lot of monologues on brain science-y things. And philosophy. Freeman’s charm, his wit and his presence feel dull and uninspired, like an actor who should be working on more interesting and creative projects.
The denouement of the film felt forced and flaccid, a bland tributary in the line of Besson films that actually are interesting in creative. In contrast to many Besson films that leave the viewer wanting more, this film made the reviewer jump out of the theater as quickly as possible to write his review and forget about the experience altogether.
In the first ten days of release, Lucy made $79 million in the United States, which more than covers the $40 million budget for the film
1.5 stars, would advise a hard pass.