Luc Besson’s latest creation is somewhat of a messy, muddled text with no direction – it overflows with ostentatiousness without evidence of a firm purpose or exploration. Watching it is like witnessing silly CGI incorporated with bursts of abstract editing that shatter any cohesiveness that the film occasionally had the potential of possessing. With a filmography that consists of the masterful Leon: The Professional and the fun The Fifth Element, Lucy is one of Besson’s most amateur pieces.
The film began with prosperity. The editing, which later became self-indulgent and overworked, is hypnotising, seducing the exploration of the animalism within humanity. The cuts between the urbanised setting where Lucy was shot to scenes of wild animals within the depths of nature creates quite a startling juxtaposition to demonstrate the lack of disparity between urban and rural, 21st century world and the beginnings, animals and humans. As well as this, Scarlett Johansson initially shines as the lead with her disarrayed and slightly hysterical nature bringing a very authentic core, creating an intimacy with Johansson that was comfortably claustrophobic.
Once the film stepped into full stride and saw Lucy’s brain usage increase from 10% all the way to 100% at the end, the film – ironically – lost all its character and became a lacklustre blockbuster served with extravagant visuals and inconsequential avant-garde scenes that appeared so out of place that it seemed that they featured by error. Johansson abandoned all credibility when she turned into the superhuman Lucy, becoming an absent clone of any other action lead. Morgan Freeman also contributed very little to the film where he lifelessly uttered wise words and scientific data, his velvety voice becoming the only thing captivating about his empty character.
The central issue of Lucy is that it is based so firmly on a the scientific ‘fact’ that humans only use 10% of their brain; a flakey fact that has been surrounded by fiery debate. This means that Lucy can be neither plausible nor fantastical: it awkwardly sits as an aimless film that attempts to make something out of nothing. To add to this, the latter part of the film is absurd and is essentially Luc Besson meets Terrence Malick. Dinosaurs and the beginning of time fuse with the lame, contemporary action that saturates the end of the film.
Lucy is messy. It has very little idea or control over what it is doing. Performances became weak and uninhabited. The film became frivolous and pretentious, taking all the bad bits from Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011) and placing it in a jumbled action. Lucy looks like a collation of scenes from a range of Besson films that had been cut, constructing an assemblage that is mainly nonsensical, but synchronously occasionally fun.
Lucy (2014), directed by Luc Besson, is distributed by Universal Pictures International, Certificate 15. Watch the trailer below: