Luc Besson has become a master of the high concept thriller. It could be an assassin, a driver or a man with a very particular set of skills as the main protagonist, but you pretty much know what to expect. After an extended period where he acted as a producer and writer on projects, he has returned to the director’s chair for the Sci-Fi action film Lucy.
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) finds herself in a bit of a mess. She has a hang over and desperately wants to crash out after a long night of partying. Her boyfriend has other ideas. He needs a briefcase delivered to some sinister gents and he persuades Lucy to make the delivery. The meeting goes horribly wrong with Lucy abducted and rendered unconscious. When she wakes, she finds she has had a pouch of illegal drugs surgically implanted into her stomach and she has been coerced into delivering the pouch to Rome. Before she sets off she is attacked and the pouch in her stomach is ruptured causing the drug to start seeping into her system. The effect is that her brain chemistry begins to change and she is able to utilise more of the capabilities of her mind. In search of answers to what is happening to her she tracks down an expert in brain development (Morgan Freeman) and then channels her energies into revenge on the people who put her in the situation she has found herself.
Besson has stated in a number of interviews that the premise is a bit silly. The theory that humans only use ten percent of our brain potential dates back to the nineteen sixties. It has since been disproved with the current thinking being that we use different areas up to fifteen percent capacity. Still that doesn’t get in the way of Besson spinning a good yarn.
Scarlett Johannson has become more prolific over the last few years, and her rise to a leading actress is a welcome one. She is excellent in the title role of Lucy, giving off just the right vibe. She starts off as a normal young woman who is up for a party and as comfortable a life as possible. As the drug takes effect, Lucy’s personality changes along with her intelligence.She now begins to lose what it is that makes her human. She lacks empathy for those around her as she becomes smarter and has the ability to view the trivialities that make up the greater part of modern living.
The film certainly doesn’t out stay its welcome with a run time of only ninety minutes. In less than ten minutes from the opening credits, we are immersed in the action sequences. It does not ever let up from then on. The pace is frenetic but thoroughly enjoyable as Johansson is completely convincing in the role of a bad ass action heroine. Besson knows how to put these films together very well and is consistently good at not wasting time on-screen. One benefit of the pacing is that the audience is not granted any time to actually ponder what is going on. If they did, a few questions might be raised about holes in the plot. The only misstep in the entire film was the car chase set in the streets of Paris. It seemed out of place within the film and to be honest was totally unnecessary. At least, it was quite short.
The downside of a brief running time is that the supporting characters are not developed in any meaningful way. Some of the characters can be viewed as only a means for pushing forward the plot. This is underlined in the third act where Lucy casually dispenses with the help of a French policeman as he is no longer of use to her. Only Morgan Freeman gets any sort of screen time to rival Johansson. Even then, he is playing the part of Morgan Freeman dressed as a scientist. It could have been anyone in the role.
Overall, a good action movie that never stops for breath and confirms Scarlett Johannson as an actor that can easily carry a high profile action film. Recommended