Sunday, 24 August 2014

Review: Lucy

World of Blackout Film Review

Lucy Poster

Cert: 15 / 89 mins / Dir. Luc Besson
WoB Rating: 2/7

High-concept, action sci-fi isn't a genre you'd normally associate with the pen of Luc 'Taken' Besson, and after the Freeman/Johansson vehicle Lucy, that isn't about to change. His tale of a young woman who develops accelerated intelligence and telekinetic powers after an experimental narcotic leaks into her bloodstream, suggests that Besson wanted to make a superhero film, but thinks that comic books are somehow beneath him.

My main problem with the film is that I just couldn't buy into any of it. At all. I know that the super-powers exhibited in the Avengers series are absolutely fictional, for example, but they're set in a world which is real, and are governed by real-world physics. Lucy on the other hand, is based sincerely around the misconception that we only use 10% of our brains. It's not a wild and dangerous speculation to point out that this is bollocks, in the same way as Mars won't really appear to be the same size as the moon this year. Nonetheless, Besson takes a provenly incorrect starting point, and builds a story around it which defies all common sense, suggesting that humans all possess the brainpower not only to move physical objects with out minds, but also to overwrite the basic structure of science. And it all happens from the accidental ingestion of a drug which is designed in the film to be ingested, without a single person in the organisation which created it having examined the effects of its use. At all.

The real scientific experiment here may be 'what happens when I don't employ a proof-reader for my script?'.

In and of itself, it's perhaps not as bad a starting block for a movie as I'm making out, but the film fails to convince at every turn. Resident brain-expert Morgan Freeman basically spends an hour and a half shrugging and asking "how does that work?", while Scarlett Johansson's powers increase exponentially and she replies "look, it just does, alright? Science, and that". I wouldn't go so far as to say the film is stupid, just wilfully ignorant. For example, if Lucy can change the colour, length and style of her hair to avoid airport security, why can't she change the structure of her facial features? If Lucy can make a room full of police officers pass out at will, why does she spend the next half hour avoiding the Korean crime syndicate who are attempting to hunt her down? Why is a woman who can bend matter, still constricted by gravity and inertia?

By the time that Freeman asserts that our universe "isn't governed by mathematical laws", the whole thing has devolved into a nonsensical chase caper, with less cause-and-effect than the average Tom & Jerry cartoon. Lucy isn't a movie where you can leave your brain in the car park (you want Besson's 3 Days To Kill for that), simply because it keeps hurling fabricated suppositions at its audience for them to think about. There's just nothing I could believe in, even within the context of the film. And if you can't explain your premise using logic and reason, you may as well have your heroine gain her powers after being exposed to a solar-storm, or somesuch.

On a more technical level, Lucy is a curious mix of high-end CGI effects work, and regularly intercut cheap-looking library footage of safari animals, volcanos, cityscapes etc, which suggests that the budget had been well and truly spanked long before the film's final edit. Scarlett Johansson's performance is surprisingly agile, although hers is the only one, giving the impression that this could have been a much stronger film had it been in different hands from the start.

What's more worrying is that distributors Universal also seem to lack confidence in their product's appeal. The trailers beforehand (The Riot Club, Medea, Let's Be Cops, Sin City 2, Before I Go To Sleep, Sex Tape - in that order) suggest that the studio has no idea who will be watching this film, and so aren't sure what to pitch at them for future attractions. Although I'm sure if any of those feature Morgan Freeman as a beleaguered academic, it'll be right up the audience's street.

For a film about increased intelligence, Luc Besson takes a perverse delight in insulting the intellect of his audience, and it's perhaps ironic that I felt slightly more stupid for having sat through it.

Science-fiction for people who hate science, Lucy takes the incredible and makes it truly unbelievable…

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Oh, it pretty much is, yeah.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Not nearly enough.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
No. It doesn't.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
A little bit, yeah.

Will I watch it again?
I shouldn't think so.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Didn't hear one.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
Has Johansson got an unfeasibly large overdraft she's trying to pay off, or something?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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