Written and Directed by Luc Besson
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a young woman living in Taipei. One day she meets her new boyfriend Richard (Pilou Asbæk) out front of an office building. Through some trickery Richard forces Lucy to take a briefcase into the office building because it turns out he is justifiably afraid to do it himself. Lucy is eventually forced by the recipient to be a drug mule to take a new drug overseas. It is literally do or die for her. While being held she gets beaten up by a guard causing one of the bags in her abdomen to break open. The drug begins to leak into her system and as the effects of the drug grow, Lucy begins developing new and extraordinary abilities.
This is an action film with sprinklings of superpowers throughout. You could even call it science fiction. I know this movie’s plot centers around the 10% myth. As the myth goes, the average human being only uses about 10% of their brain power and using more would lead to greater intelligence and perhaps even superhuman abilities. It has no basis in reality and has a few possible origins but it does allow for some interesting story ideas such as here. Even if you’re aware of that the presence of Morgan Freeman as Professor Samuel Norman in this movie makes you forget about it. That man can sell anything, and he sells the myth as truth very well.
I am not a big fan of Scarlett Johansson. She is a good enough actress but nothing to rave about. Here however she is really great as Lucy. Lucy is slowly losing her humanity as her knowledge and abilities grow. Lucy is even afraid at the beginning of what is to come, and Johansson gives that portion a great deal of emotion. I really felt bad for Lucy. You genuinely feel for the character.
As Lucy begins to change, she reaches out and helps those that she cares about but that slips away and her actions become colder and a little more calculated towards serving her ends as the film goes on. She doesn’t become a monster but further disconnected from being human instead. Most movies would have gone the easy way and made her something evil.
The movie gets very philosophical for an action film. It is probably one of the most philosophical western action movies made in a great many years. It touches on what makes us human and even notions of God. There’s even discussion of higher purpose. It delves into them not to deeply but deep enough that you have something to think about after the movie is over. It does not talk down to its audience. Not once. Besson treats the audience as intelligent. That is very refreshing in a movie.
Lucy contains a bit of an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey when the title character’s abilities have simply exploded in Strength. She shifts through time to different epochs and in one of them she meets a very primitive human being and briefly interacts with them. I’m not clear if this was an example of a paradox with Lucy granting humanity the ability to grow intellectually thus ensuring her creation or just her looking at a distant ancestor. I like when movies give you just enough information without explaining it all. It can make for a better movie to let the audience draw their own conclusions.
Dogging Lucy the whole time is Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik), the Asian drug lord who had turned her into a drug mule against her will along with manufacturing this new drug. As the film moves along Mr. Jang becomes more and more evil. As Lucy evolves the level of his darkness keeps pace. He throws everything he can to get her and get his revenge. And, even though she is capable of extraordinary things, his one desire is simply to kill her. Even at the very end when she is transforming into something more, he has a gun pointed right at her to end her life. It’s a single-minded focus that makes him a standout villain.
It is a pretty solid action film. You get a great chase scene as Lucy is running to get more of the drug for her own purposes as well as keep it out of the hands of the bad guys. She also uses her abilities to toss some henchmen up against the ceiling in order to get more of the drug.
Luc Besson never disappoints in the action genre. I have never once seen one of his films that I thought was dull or I just disliked. His films are just so energetic and visually satisfying. The quality of the stories varies from film to film but overall he’s very good and here he definitely does not disappoint.
This is among my favorite action films. It is still as good as when I first saw it. It is a solid action movie with a solid script and great performances by all involved. You cannot go wrong with this movie if you decide to watch it. If you have not seen it yet, why not? Clear away 90 minutes of your life. You will not be disappointed.