Lucy (2014 movie) review…

Smart chick trapped in an increasingly dumb movie… After the break…

Lucy (2014 movie) review…

What do you get when you put the movies “The Bourne Legacy” & “2001: A Space Odyssey” into a blender? I don’t know and, even after I watched this film, I still don’t know.

“Lucy” refers to “Lucy Miller,” a typical ‘dumb blonde’ in Taiwan (played somewhat capably by Scarlett Johansson) who becomes trapped into a drug-smuggling operation thanks to her conniving boyfriend. Meant to be a party drug that is smuggled across borders via surgical incision into the body, Lucy’s portion of the drug haul ruptures when she is beaten early on in her travels. Now coursing through her body, the drug gives her increasingly science-fiction powers to the point of body morphing, gravity manipulation and, ultimately, transcendence (yes, really). Along for the ride is a French cop serving as the male equivalent of the window dressing normally reserved for women in movies such as these and Morgan Freeman who, for all intents and purposes, does little more than stand around and look awed (good work if you can find it, I suppose).

To be completely fair, the beginning of the movie is fairly effective: We know right away that both pre-drug Lucy is a bit on the daft side and her boyfriend is the typical “I’ll say anything to sleep with you” conniver that women such as Lucy always tend to fall for. The drug delivery is a bit tense and the whole ‘Caucasian woman in a physically intimidating environment where everyone and everywhere is foreign’ setting doesn’t need an award-winning director to turn it into the tense and intimidating scene that it turns out to be.

Things take a turn for the weird, though, once Lucy begins to turn from daft pre-drug Lucy into SuperLucy. Yes, she can shoot enemies down with ease and seemingly self-heal herself. Soon enough, she’s manipulating gravity and matter itself, changing her hair style and color instantly (the women must’ve loved that bit), driving through traffic like she invented it and just toying with the world like she’s discovered a real-life version of the “God mode” cheat code found in most first-person shooters, all culminating in a patently ridiculous shoot-out between French police and Asian mobsters that makes such little sense you’ll be left wondering if an entire second act didn’t accidentally fall onto the cutting room floor.

In movie reviews, I make an attempt to be somewhat even-handed but, with “Lucy,” I’m just baffled by some of the artistic decisions that were made. I do want to be fair and give credit where credit is due: This doesn’t look like a direct-to-video movie. The lighting, the scenes, the cinematography, the special effects, the music… All of this is adequate for the production. You neither notice any glaring deficiences nor do any of those attributes raise the level of the material presented. There’s no stand-out performance such as Tommy Lee Jones stealing scenes from Harrison Ford from “The Fugitive” or a soundtrack from Vangelis that turns a visually quirky and stylish “Blade Runner” into a quintessential masterpiece.

The movie production aspects aside, though, it is the script that truly falters for this movie and the needle moves from “practical” to “artsy” rather quickly and definitively. There’s a lot of set-up for Morgan Freeman’s character that just never pays off: He’s not essential to the movie at all. Let me repeat that – Morgan Freeman could have been cut out of this film wholesale with little effect. Seriously, try it yourself: Take the movie, cut out all of the aspects that refer to Morgan Freeman’s character and, with just the tiniest bit of post-production wizardry, you could chop this 90-minute film into a bit more than 60 minutes and it would still retain a lot of it’s potency. Why is Morgan Freeman here in this movie? He doesn’t do ANYTHING! He isn’t a reason for Lucy to go to Paris – She’s going there anyway because that’s where the remainder of the drug is.

Part of the underlying problem with the movie’s plot is the fact that Lucy becomes so ominpotent so quickly. We’re not dicussing a scenario where Lucy is grappling with her omnipotence throughout the movie until the end where she finally “figures it out” and unleashes her omnipotence to defeat an enemy. Lucy becomes omnipotent right away – She aptly defeats five Asian men who have imprisoned her, forces a surgery team to perform surgery on her (couldn’t she have just pulled the drug package out herself as she had with the bullet she pulled out of her only scenes earlier?), learns an entire new language in ten minutes and can sense that one of her ditzy friends has a serious medical condition just by touching her (a ditzy friend, by the way, that has absolutely no pay off at all! Why is she there?). And that’s just the beginning.

All of this omnipotence in “Lucy” sort of reminds me of the problem that the movie “The Equalizer” faced: Denzel Washington’s character became an unstoppable killing machine and wound up going to Russia to kill a freakin’ mafia kingpin in his own mansion… In Russia… After blowing up an entire cargo ship… And decimating his mafia organization in America. Both movies suffer the same problem – There’s no “up” to ascend towards, there’s no “11” to crank the volume up (hint: This is Spinal Tap). “Lucy” becomes her own God by the end of the film, turning into some Tim Burton gothic mainframe computer by the end of the film because… I don’t know… Magic. The Star Child. The Monolith. I was half expecting the ending theme of “2001:A Space Odyssey” to start blaring out of the speakers at the end.

Why didn’t Lucy, with her omnipotent powers, ask the Paris cop to help stop the Asian gangsters at the end of the film? Why didn’t she just stop those mobsters herself… Since she’s capable of putting an entire hallway of people to sleep all by herself!

Enough. I’m done putting any more effort into this review. I’m not even going to touch the whole “people only use 10% of their brains” myth. This movie isn’t the “female Jason Bourne” movie that the advertisements made it out to be.

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