wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV/online (?)
Luc Besson's Lucy is a fun sci-fi flick that has a daring premise to it. Treated like pulpy fun, however, and propelled by Scarlett Johansson's electrifying presence, the film spends more time on the thrills, than on some interesting questions that it poses.Read more
The name Lucy might conjure black-and-white images of bubbly naiveté for some, but any lingering subconscious connections you might have made to a popular 50s American sitcom disappear quite quickly, once Luc Besson's latest film begins.
A spunky Scarlett Johansson in the title role almost immediately gets drawn into a violent series of events that lead to her being involuntarily administered a synthetic drug; except, the drug has an effect that one couldn't have ever imagined.
The film has an interesting premise - the fact that the human mind is known to utilize only 10% of its capacity. What would happen if, somehow, it was able to optimize and use every bit of it? The result - the film would have you believe - is mind-boggling.
There's no denying that the pace of the film - always brisk - and Johansson's performance, keep you interested at all times. Things often get out of hand in terms of believability, and some of the VFX in the film are unacceptably tacky. Yet, it is that intriguing premise that holds the film together. As Lucy begins to use more and more of her mind capacity, you're always curious about just where all of it will lead.
Interestingly, Besson, who has also written and edited the film, clearly wants you to use more and more of your mind as the film progresses, just the way Lucy does. In the initial scenes, he cuts away to wildlife shots in the middle of the scene - to almost spoonfeed the audience about what exactly is going on. As the film makes its way to the business end, the explanatory cutaways cease, and the pace of cutting increases rapidly, making you concentrate harder.
Along the way, the film poses some truly interesting questions about human perception and our understanding of existence itself. It attempts to put forth a theory about humanity's existential crisis. Yet, the film never quite rises over being just pulpy sci-fi. There are thrills to be had along the way, particularly in one deft car chase scene, (supposedly) through the streets of Paris.
Johansson is terrific, which goes without saying. Not just because of her screen presence, but because she tempers her performance with subtle shifts that progress through the film. Morgan Freeman plays an elderly scientist and the only one who can understand what Lucy is going through - which basically means he plays Morgan Freeman.
Lucy is fun while it lasts, and if you choose to take the philosophical questions that it poses back home with you, then you could spend some time tossing and turning them over in your head, to draw your own conclusions. But somehow, it never quite seems like that was Luc Besson's intention with this film.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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