Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review of LUCY: Superhuman Genius

August 9, 2014

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a party-going American girl studying in Taipei, who gets meets a guy named Richard in a club. Richard tricks her into delivering a suitcase to a certain Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik). Instead of a simple turnover, Richard was shot and Lucy was abducted. Jang turned out to be a maniacal sadistic Korean drug lord. The contents of the suitcase turned out to be a blue crystalline drug, and Lucy was to be its mule.  

A bag of this powerful substance was surgically implanted into her abdomen, but it leaks and spreads throughout her body. This drug would accelerate Lucy's usage of her brain to levels no one has yet experienced, giving her incredible superhuman abilities. Using her Lucy eludes her abductors in order to reach eminent expert in brain physiology Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) in Paris to offer herself for the benefit of science.

Scarlett Johansson finds herself again in another sci-fi feature, third in a row now. First she was the voice behind Samantha, the operating system Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with in "Her".  Just last month we saw her as the mysterious alien seductress picking up and killing hapless men in "Under the Skin." This time, like her most popular film role as Black Widow in "The Avengers", she again gets to use her action star skills to good use as Lucy.  Her performance is distinct in each of these recent films, and in "Lucy" she gets to display great range as her character undergoes the dizzying effects of the drug.

Director Luc Besson is back in the groove as he sells us this outlandish story of an unlikely super-genius in great style and flair.  Besson is known for his over-the-top action scenes in films like "Taken" and "The Fifth Element", and he displays some of his work best here. There are those bloody violent fight scenes, so well-conceptualized and executed in brutal grace. There was that ridiculously awesome car chase scene in Paris had some of the wildest car stunts I have seen onscreen. 

The sci-fi aspects of the film are very imaginatively presented, with surreal images ranging from microscopic cells dividing to vast galaxies of stars. Besson would intertwine images of nature to his narrative, like that of a cheetah going after a gazelle which added further tension to the scenes when Lucy was abducted.  The authoritative voice of Morgan Freeman keeps the film grounded, lending credence to the science on which this story is based on.  

Besson also keeps us updated on the percentage of Lucy's brain access as the film goes along. It was interesting to note their theory that the more realized human brain potential is, the less human we become. The extraordinary sequence of events that happen when Lucy reaches 100% was a cornucopia of bizarre images, highlighted by an incredible series of flashbacks of Times Square in New York City through history to prehistory to the beginning of time.  Those dreamlike scenes need to be seen on the big screen for best effect.

Overall, "Lucy" is an exciting, fast-paced, action-packed sci-fi thriller, very entertaining to watch. It keeps you at the edge of your seats during the ride, and concludes the trip with awe and wonderment. We may have seen this same scenario of drug-induced brain perfection recently with the film "Limitless" starring Bradley Cooper. But "Lucy" went further with the idea, taking it to a more philosophically ideal level. Lucy did not use her new-found genius to try to solve her own personal problems, but instead she aimed for something more altruistic. 8/10.

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