There are two things you can expect from a Luc Besson movie: a kick-ass female character and some spectacularly shot action. In his latest big screen feast, Besson not only delivers on both, but adds a little science and one original story structure.
Luc Besson has been defying the Hollywood action flick casting conventions by having a female lead in nearly all his movies since Nikita. In Scarlett Johansson he has found his strongest yet. When Lucy finds herself literally cuffed to a drug deal, her world unfolds in both a surreal and unexpected way. Twanese drug lords use her as a mule, but the drug pouch that was placed in her stomach leaks. What unfolds may be a scientific improbability; it is one we can only hope for.
Interwoven with an anthropological and philosophical history of Man, Luc Besson’s Lucy is both fascinating and a damn good ride.
It’s not the first time that a film has been made about the potential of mind-altering drugs. What makes Lucy stand out is that it tries to directly relate back to the evolution of Mankind. Morgan Freeman is both ironically and appropriately cast as the clever professor, specializing in matters of the brain. Freeman is in an indirect way the omniscient narrator who explains Lucy’s journey through his speech at a conference he is holding.
Scarlett Johansson once again proves her weight as an actor. She carries this film and offers a multi-layered performance. There is an evolution through her character, especially as Lucy’s brain grows more and more powerful where, by the end of the film, she has simply turned robotic.
In the US, Lucy opened at number 1, beating Hercules at the box office in its opening weekend (granted they were both sold as action films, the highest grossing genre during the summer). Interestingly, while there is plenty of action in Lucy, the story tries to be much more complex than a shoot-them-up. Lucy is also the second largest budget French film production at an estimated 49 million euros.
Besson’s recent work has not been anywhere near his heights of The Fifth Element, Leon, Nikita or Le Grand Bleu. Lucy has changed that and while some of the science has holes, the film is nonetheless entertaining and original.