director Luc Besson
viewed: 07/25/2014 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA
The Scarlett Johansson sci-fi movie of the year that you should see is Under the Skin (2013). The Scarlett Johansson sci-fi movie of the year that you will probably see is Luc Besson’s Lucy. Not a bad double feature, but there you go.
These are words of advice that I would just have easily given to myself.
On the plus side for Lucy, it’s a concise 90 minute genre film that gets rolling from the word “go.” Johansson’s Lucy gets tricked into taking a mysterious case to a Taiwanese gangster. Things rapidly and bloodily go from bad to worse where in she has a packet of some new kind of street drug sewn into her abdomen. Only when this drug starts leaking into her system, she begins to be able to tap into more and more of her brain’s capacity, developing toward an ultimate consciousness and lots of superpowers to boot.
So there is the concise genre action film and then this more head-trippy perspective on human development and uber-consciousness that includes a creation of the universe and human potentiality that has drawn comparisons from things like Stanley Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and even Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011). Maybe other comparisons to more recent sci-fi films about expanded consciousness are more apt, like Limitless (2011) or Transcendence (2014), but I haven’t seen those.
I did, on the other hand, think of Gaspar Noé’s super head-trippy Enter the Void (2010), which I think could have been a good influence on this film if it had been more considered.
Lucy is entertaining. Some are suggesting it’s Besson’s best since The Fifth Element (1997) which is doubtlessly true. He’s made a lot of serious garbage for the past two decades or so. It fits well within Besson’s oeuvre, this strong female kicker of asses, heroine to save humanity, female empowerment via a truly male perspective. From Nikita (1990), The Fifth Element, his atrocious The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), and even as recent as Angel-A (2005), this has been a consistent theme for him.
For Johansson, it’s another feather in her cap. She’s very good in the film, ranging from mouthy young party thing to superhuman megabrain. She keeps the whole thing moving along and compelling. She’s having a really good run of good performances in a myriad of movies. All I can say is, “Keep up the good work!”