wed 21/04/2021

Lucy | reviews, news & interviews

Lucy

Lucy

Scarlett Johansson as a kickass brainiac is Luc Besson's latest superheroine fantasy

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson): not as bright as she looks?

Luc Besson has always venerated the ladies, preferably trousered types with lashings of spunk. You can tick them all off: Isabelle Adjani in Subway, the felon-assassin Nikita, precocious little Natalie Portman in Léon, bande-dessinée adventuress Adèle Blanc-Sec. Why, in The Lady he even offered a po-faced serenade to Aung San Suu Kyi. Not a lot of submissive mannikins in floaty floral-print cotton skirts in that lot.

Luc Besson has always venerated the ladies, preferably trousered types with lashings of spunk. You can tick them all off: Isabelle Adjani in Subway, the felon-assassin Nikita, precocious little Natalie Portman in Léon, bande-dessinée adventuress Adèle Blanc-Sec. Why, in The Lady he even offered a po-faced serenade to Aung San Suu Kyi. Not a lot of submissive mannikins in floaty floral-print cotton skirts in that lot. Just when you think he’s run out of ballsy goddesses to plant on a pedestal, up pops Lucy, his most completely idealised heroine yet, glacially incarnated by – who else? - Scarlett Johansson.

Lucy starts out as a regular American girl hanging out in Taipei. Her creepy boyfriend (nice turn from Pilou Asbæk from Borgen) stitches her up to drop off a briefcase in a smart hotel, and she promptly finds herself pressganged as a drug mule for a very scary Taiwanese triad - besuited henchman Julian Rhind-Tutt all but twirls his moustachios as he explains all. They sew a package into her belly but when she’s beaten up in custody it bursts, releasing a turquoise crystal narcotic known as CPH4 into her bloodstream.

Its immediate impact is to sharpen her sensory perception, enabling her to outwit her captors and go on the run. She’s soon in a black wig and on the plane to Paris for a pow-wow with Morgan Freeman’s globe-trotting neurologist (pictured) to talk over what to do when a human starts using more than 10 percent of cerebral capacity. For him it’s a lecture-hall hypothesis. For her, it’s a new reality.

Unfortunately, they have only 24 hours to find out. Captions advise that Lucy’s brain capacity is advancing ever upwards. “What happens when she reaches 100 percent?” someone asks. “I have no idea,” says Freeman. In truth nor does Besson. The race against time translates into a swift 90 minutes of screen action, much of it devoted to fending off the Taiwanese hoodlums who descend on Paris to retrieve their precious cargo from Lucy with only Amr Waked’s rugged Parisian cop (pictured below) to protect her.

It gives nothing away to say that Besson struggles to follow through on his script's what-if fantasy. The film hurtles off in two directions at once. On the one hand it’s a pretentious sci-fi thriller about evolution full of day-glo SFX and cutaway illustrations from the natural world. On the other it’s a stock Asian bloodbath. Keeping a fabulously straight face, Johansson does her best to hold the centre as genius and ninja. But in truth her superheroine power – the ability to freeze-frame her opponents - is ever so slightly pants. And she’s not as bright as she looks: when she gets her chance early on to kill off her bloodthirsty nemesis Mr Jang (Min-sik Choi) she contents herself with a lesser punishment.

Most of the pleasure derives from the comic reactions of those around Johansson. For a while it’s a hoot and the Scarlett fan club, of whom Besson is the latest honorary president, will be in clover. But in the end Lucy is neither clever nor thrilling to match up to its hi-falutin' aspirations.

Keeping a fabulously straight face, Johansson does her best to hold the centre as genius and ninja

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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