Sunday, August 10, 2014

A review of Lucy.

Lucy is a strange science-fiction movie. Not so much because of its subject matter, more because it flirts with so many science-fiction sub-genres. But more about that latter. The film begins in Taiwan where Lucy, Scarlett Johansson, is exposed to a new experimental drug and finds her brain capacity greatly expanded. This increases her ability to acquire knowledge and opens up abilities like telekinesis. To find out what is happening to her brain she contacts a brain researcher played by Morgan Freeman. 

Lucy does not seem to know what sort of science-fiction film it wants to be. It starts out as a thriller with Lucy’s boyfriend trapping her in a very dangerous situation. For most of its running time the movie is very much an action/adventure movie, as Lucy attempts to extract herself from the mess she is in. In amongst the action, the film superficially explores the potential of an expanded human brain. Near the end the movie attempts some revelations about the meaning of life. 

The film was written and directed by mega-film maker Luc Besson, who also wrote and directed the excellent The Fifth Element. Some of his direction seems a bit bizarre, like his use of scenes of animals that are about to be trapped or attacked, or are copulating at the beginning of the movie. These scenes jar the viewer out of the movie. They seem designed to emphasise that humans who use only ten percent of their brains are motivated by primitive animal instincts. The movie than asks the question, what would motivate a human if they used more than ten per cent of their brain? 

Scarlet Johansson is believable and involving as her character’s terror transforms into the emotional indifference of a seeker of knowledge. Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman. The special effects are realistic. 

The ending of the film is reminiscent of Altered States and 2001: A Space Odyssey, as Lucy goes on a visual trip while her brain ponders the universe. There is a very obvious tribute to 2001 involving a USB flash drive. It is a pity Lucy doesn’t attempt to answer the big questions like 2001 did.

Lucy is enjoyable to watch, but will disappoint those hoping to be challenged by ideas. Once a viewer exits the cinema, their animal instincts will quickly replace any examination of the film’s superficial meanings.


graywave said...

Sounds like utter rubbish. For a start, the premise - that we only use 10% of our brains - is patent nonsense that was discredited decades ago. For another thing psychic powers don't exist - also proven beyond any doubt decades ago. So why is this bozo writing films based on this nonsense? If he wanted a film about magic, he should have called it magic, not sci-fi. This kind of thing really gets up my nose. Are people really so ignorant of how far science has moved on from all this in the past 50 years that they'll take this stuff seriously?

Graham Clements said...

I would call it very soft science fiction Graham. Nothing hard about it at all. Definitely not your type of movie. If you take away the 10% thing, which I thought was just a myth too, it is interesting to contemplate what might happen as the human brain evolves - perhaps we will just become stupidier which seems to be the case at the moment. (I remember watching a film a while back where as we evolved our use of technology did make us more stupid until everything broke down). But with the help of technology some of the magic in Lucy might become possible. For instance, a computer chip connected to the brain which directs a nanoswarm to rearrange matter.

Anthony J. Langford said...

The irony being that it sounds dumb lol.
I've never been a big Luc Beeson fan. I didnt like the Fifth Element. Only some of the production design.
Actually I did like Leon, and The Big Blue. Other than that...

I'll wait until the dvd.

It's a shame you didn't get to see These Final Hours. I think you will enjoy watching and reviewing. Hopefully you will in time.


ps I'm still not a robot, not for lack of wishing for it.

Graham Clements said...

Anthony, Maybe Beeson was trying to be ironic too, he certainly tried to fit everything else into the movie.

I am very much tempted to see if I can find an illegal download of These Final Hours.

Anthony J. Langford said...

I download some films but T.F.H. is Aussie - hang out for the dvd.

sas.youth said...

To the writer of this blog: i see 1984 is one of your great reads. it is mine too. Dont you, or anyone else, notice the clear connection between Lucy and 1984? Am i the only one?

Graham Clements said...

sas.youth - you have got me thinking. I can't think of any big brother surveillance in Lucy. 1984 was all about controlling the population, Lucy is about expanding the individual, so I suppose Winston Smith wanted to learn the truth about the world as Lucy does.