Just to make this clear, Lucy is an incredibly stupid movie that makes absolutely zero sense whatsoever.
But Lucy is also maddeningly, a gloriously achievement in film-making so out of control that somehow it transcends being a “bad film” and is in actuality a disaster so precisely calibrated to writer and director Luc (The Professional, The Fifth Element) Besson’s insane vision that one can’t take one’s eyes off the screen.
I mean, for example, take Transformers 4. I know that ain’t the full title but I don’t care to go back and figure it out nor remember it. There came a point where I wanted to walk out of the theater. But the A/C was working like a Godsend so I sat there for three hours being pummeled by uninspired, rote CGI. If I had rented the DVD at home, I surely would’ve turned it off at the 2 hour mark.
But not a moment like that happened with Lucy… As the plot continued to spiral into completely illogical ludicrousness, I still couldn’t figure out where the movie was going. Part of the “credit” goes to Besson’s screenplay, but most of the “credit” should go to Scarlett Johansson—who also single-handedly proves that women can lead a comic-book hero film. Because not only is Lucy essentially a superhero origin story, it also made a shitload of money.
Lucy is the tale of a young girl in Taiwan who is turned into a drug mule by Korean gangsters. They surgically insert a big bag of some blue drug in her body (reportedly a synthesized version of the stuff that makes fetuses grow so quickly) to smuggle into the US. The bag breaks and she slowly gains more and more access to the remaining 90% of the human brain, which the movies tells us, mankind isn’t evolved enough to use yet. (The science behind the whole 10% thing is also kinda dubious to begin with but let’s just go with it for now.)
Johansson is truly a marvelous actress. Unlike her role as the Black Widow in the Marvel movies, she actually doesn’t do very much gun-shooting or ass-kicking here. Most of the time she’s sitting in a room, a car, or airplane, just staring into space, calculating whatever it is her brain feels the need to calculate. And she still somehow remains a character that is compelling and sympathetic. She’d be a wonderful Terminator.
As stated before, Besson incredulously shoots for the Kubrick/Malick moon as well. His mind must have become so gloriously warped in self-indulgence that he typed any old thing that popped into his head while working on the script. Maybe he was on drugs and experienced a helluva trip because somehow we explore deep space, early man making fire, the dinosaurs, scenes of different species of animals procreating, the rest of human evolution and history… Perhaps concepts this zany would have worked better in outer space like The Fifth Element, which contains similar themes, albeit, subtler.
And did I mention the film only takes about 90 minutes? Hell, I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel because Lucy is the summer’s most charismatic female character and I’m kinda curious what she’s up to right now. (SPOILER: She kinda turned herself into a giant black stalactite computer with a handy USB drive. She’s also…everywhere, capable of sending you text messages if you think about her.)
So here lies the rub. Yes, Lucy isn’t very good. Practically every friend I know who’s seen the movie has hated, hated, hated it. I don’t blame them. But it’s also shockingly and audaciously watchable, something that can’t be said for Transformers 4. In another time, Lucy would have been a classic, prime candidate for MST3K.
Lucy is currently playing in theaters everywhere.