Circumstances conspire to force young party girl, Lucy, into becoming an unwitting mule for an experimental drug on behalf of a brutal Korean gang. Accidentally overdosing on said drug, Lucy finds herself able to access cerebral capabilities at a superhuman level, but at the cost of a massively reduced lifespan, to about a day. Now she must figure out what to do with her near-limitless talents and remaining time.
At one time the arthouse fan’s action director of choice, Luc Besson (Leon, The Fifth Element), through his production company Europa Corp, purveyors of silly, mid-budget actioners such as Taken, The Transporter and From Paris With Love, has become slightly more difficult to classify as a writer/director, saving his more enigmatic scripts for himself, with decidedly mixed results and to far less fanfare than he was greeted with in the 90’s.
Returning to the sub-genre that made his name in the first place with his latest outing, Lucy, a femme fatal based violent action flick, Besson might just have made his best film in two decades.
Not to say that Lucy is a masterpiece, or even amongst the best films of the year, but it does hold sparks of inspiration and points of interest that could give it a longer shelf life than it may seem deserving of on first inspection.
The first noticeable aspects are the unusual visual flares, not so much in its aesthetic or editing, clean and smoothly executed though they might be, but with the introduction of metaphorical imagery synchronised with the story, which separates the film from the pack right from the outset and adds a level of intelligence usually missing from Europa Corp’s output.
Even more impressive are the performances by the film’s lead, Scarlett Johansson, and the head villain, played without a single line of English by Korean superstar, Min-sik Choi (Oldboy, I Saw the Devil). A one-note villain Min-sik Choi may be but a more threatening presence has not graced the screen for a good long time; he is truly a frightening badguy. Accordingly Johansson’s reactions to such a threatening character begin a fantastic chain reaction of acting range that takes her from convincingly scared shitless through alienly confident to a near humanityless deity as her superhuman capabilities take hold.
The scale of the concept escalates well beyond the bounds of your average action film (or sci-fi film for that matter), but slightly at the cost of any extended action sequences, the limited selection of action we are delivered being very impressive.
It’s true that the slight running time of eighty-five minutes keeps the narrative brisk and pacey, but in opposition to most films of late an extra ten minutes of action wouldn’t have hurt, which is about as far as you can go with technical criticism as the entirety of the film is pretty much textbook in execution, featuring decent dialogue, slick CGFX and editing alongside good performances.
If you’d have any issue with Lucy at all one would imagine it’s with the core concept (explained quite poorly on the trailer), but in these times of giant monsters, talking apes and superheroes, suspension of disbelief should be a cakewalk, in which case a solidly entertaining, violent and intelligent popcorn flick awaits you.