Saturday, July 26, 2014

Movie Review -- Lucy

Today we have the offbeat new Scarlett Johansson movie Lucy. The film is directed by Luc Besson who gave us the Transporter movies and The Fifth Element, among many others. It's a lot more lighthearted than the trailers would have you believe.

The story starts off with a party girl named--wait for it--Lucy who's hanging out in China. Her sketchy beau Richard forces her to deliver a mysterious briefcase because its recipients are pissed at him for some reason. He's not exaggerating; they kill him within minutes of Lucy entering the hotel the delivery is to take place at, and Chinese gangsters, led by Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik) take her prisoner and force her to open the case. Inside she finds bags of a strange blue powder which Jang's associates identify as CPH4, a synthetic drug they intend to distribute. They knock her out and implant one of the bags in her stomach, but due to harsh treatment at their hands, it ruptures, releasing the drug into her system. After a bizarre anti-gravity spectacle, she awakens to discover greatly increased intelligence which allows her to efficiently dispatch her kidnappers (and one unfortunate cabby's leg) and get to the hospital. The doctors explain to her what CPH4 actually is, and that she's received a lethal dose. She realizes she needs the other bags or her body will break down, but they've been inserted into other unlucky couriers and sent off across Europe. 

Meanwhile, Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman, of course) is explaining what would happen if humans were able to utilize more than ten percent of their brain's capacity. Lucy calls him up and reveals that, thanks to the drug, she has done just that and is enjoying the perks. She can, among other things, read minds, diagnose injuries with just a touch, control electronic devices, alter her own physiology and instantly understand foreign languages. And she's just getting started. Intrigued, the professor agrees to meet with her. But first, she has to track down those missing bags, and enlists the help of government agent Pierre del Rio (Amr Waked). Unfortunately, Lucy has two big problems. First, every cell in her body is trying to break away from her. Second--her increased mental power is overriding her emotions and compassion; she ruthlessly kills or maims anyone who gets in her way. With time running out, can she figure out her purpose in life before she loses everything?

Lucy has a special endearing quality I just can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it's Scarlett Johansson's beauty and acting ability that has me enraptured. Maybe it's the fascinating scientific theories the movie brings to the table. Maybe it's the genuinely funny moments (such as when the Chinese gangsters tell Lucy to open the briefcase while holding up blast shields). At any rate, I like this a lot more than the last comparable film--Transcendence. 

However, one thing saps the movie's momentum. It is interspersed with cutaway gags vaguely reminiscent of Family Guy. These are distracting and do not add anything to the story. If not for them, I would give the film a better recommendation.

Nevertheless, Lucy is an endearing, thought-provoking movie.

Parental Advisory? I'm not sure this movie needs an R-rating. It has blood, but that's about it.

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