Lucy Luc Besson
Published Jan 20, 2015In one of the two supplements included with the Blu-ray release of Luc Besson's highly kinetic and unintentionally amusing actioner, Lucy, he attempts to legitimize the science involved in the production. The plot, wherein the dippy Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) stumbles into a world of high level henchmen only to wind up on the run with a heavy dose of intelligence-enhancing drugs in her system, is ostensibly a chase sequence with some exploration of what might happen if the human brain lived up to its full potential.
Besson asserts that the telepathy and cellular interconnectedness that Lucy starts to demonstrate while fleeing an assortment of interchangeable baddies is somehow plausible. There is a "specialist" of sorts to speak to this thesis, but he mostly just avoids addressing the issue, noting that since no one has ever used 20% of their brain, it's impossible to know. This seriousness is ultimately why Lucy never quite succeeds.
Initially, the structure of the film does draw the audience in. We're thrown into the action without any unnecessary contextualizing, getting a sense of character — what little there is — from actions and behaviours rather than humdrum framing. The action is stylized without being invasive and the conflict is clearly defined. As such, there's a solid Kill Bill template — wherein an empowered victim develops the skills to enact revenge — that allows the audience to sit back and indulge in the catharsis that stems from visceral carnage and id-fantasy revenge.
Unfortunately, Lucy's higher brain functions develop in an increasingly ludicrous manner that leads the plot into a place of sheer absurdity. If this had been played for self-aware comedy and exploited for the sake of popcorn entertainment, it still could have worked, but Besson doesn't demonstrate any sort of humour about these otherworldly developments. Resultantly, the fun sort of dwindles amidst the constant justification and pseudo-scientific explanation of events that are merely fantastical, high-concept twaddle. And because everything is so earnest, even the derivative glee stemming from watching Lucy finding creative ways to kick ass falls by the wayside.
Still, there are some invigorating sequences amidst the messy plot machinations that prove great to indulge in; it's just a shame that Besson never really figured out what kind of movie he wanted to make.