Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lucy (2014)

A series of unfortunate events starting with a bad choice in boyfriends leads American-in-Taiwan Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) onto the road to become an involuntary drug mule for South Korean drug kingpin (I assume) Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik). When more unfortunate events bring the experimental drug she’s smuggling from her stomach into her blood stream, Lucy starts to develop better superpowers than you get from being bitten by a radioactive spider. Lucy becomes able to use ever more of her brain capacity, using the 90 percent of the human brain we can’t access according to the bullshit science of the script (seriously, people, I know that’s a much-loved bit of nonsense, but it’s nonsense nonetheless). From then on, the plot increasingly resembles a random assortment of disconnected scenes, with nobody doing much that makes sense, neither on the level of logic nor on that of basic human psychology. Or what, just for example, is Mr. Jang’s actual motivation for his killing spree that includes basically everyone his goons encounter? Lucy for her part tries to give her increasingly superhuman knowledge to one Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), famous neurologist (tee-hee) before she’ll die, or, as she in fact does, turn into the sort of entity that’ll make people who like some privacy for their masturbation decidedly uncomfortable.

So, as should be obvious writer/director Luc Besson still hates logic, physics, and all that comes with it. Unlike with many a EuropaCorp movie, the resulting film-like entity is quite fun too watch, probably also because it was directed by Besson himself, a man with a keen visual imagination, a classic eye for the staging of all kinds of scenes, and none of the love for video clip bullshit that can make the films of some of his protégés – like the dreaded Olivier Megaton – so difficult to stomach. Sure, neither the science nor the psychology make sense, and the film’s Big Answer to the Big Questions it is supposedly asking in those scenes where no perfectly idiotic bit of violence is happening seem to be “Time’s a bit important. I think.”, but then, I didn’t really expect Besson to make a proper philosophical SF movie, nor even a science fictional action movie with proper philosophic bits.

As nearly always with Besson’s films, it’s not the question if the film’s a mess or not, but rather if it’s a hot one or not. Lucy, fortunately, is the former, at first pretending to use its superhuman basic as an excuse to have Scarlett Johansson do a Liam Neeson (as if we needed an excuse for that, particular since she has turned out to be such an excellent Black Widow in the Marvel movies) but then quickly turning into an excuse for Besson to do the thing he’s really good at: making up weird stuff while things explode from time to time, and – in this case – Morgan Freeman pops in for a few scenes to hold a scientific lecture (not based in actual science), look wise, and manage to not break out into fits of the giggles. If you take it for what it is, Lucy really is pretty fantastic, eschewing sense for the free-floating game of associations of a very loud and flashy dream that culminates in one of the most peculiar nods to Kubrick’s 2001 you’ll ever see.

I’m happy there are many SF films that aren’t like Lucy but I’m totally fine with Lucy being as it is, in particular because it’s a film much too weird to ever bore you, and so random I find it difficult to assume even Besson did see anything that happens in it coming beyond the explosions and Johansson and Freeman putting way more effort in than their characters deserve.

Also, what the hell did I just watch?

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