**** (out of 5)
July 25, 2014
Scarlett Johansson as LUCY
Morgan Freeman as PROFESSOR NORMAN
Min-sik Choi as MR. JANG
Amr Waked as PIERRE DEL RIO
Julian Rhind-Tutt as THE LIMEY
Pilou Asbæk as RICHARD
Analeigh Tipton as CAROLINE
Directed by: Luc Besson
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
There’s been so much talk about “Lucy” regarding whether it’s a good example of a strong female film that it’s hard to not address that aspect of the movie. However, this was not how I saw it. Instead, I saw it as an action film. Sure, it happened to have a female in the leading role as the ass-kicking heroine, but that’s not the focus for me.
I’m not here to debate “Lucy” as a piece of feminist filmmaking. I’d prefer to judge it by the standards for any other movie. Did it entertain? Was it enjoyable to watch? If I had paid $10 to see it, would it have been a waste of my money?
To answer those questions… yes, yes, and no.
At its core, “Lucy” is an action film as much as “Taken” was. It has director Luc Besson’s hands all over it, and considering the fact he created “La Femme Nikita,” which spawned an American remake plus two television series over the years, the question of Besson’s cinematic sexism (or clear lack thereof) should have been put to rest in the 90s.
Taken as a popcorn summer action flick, “Lucy” is right up there with “Edge of Tomorrow” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” These are enjoyable films that are steeped in technology and play around with some pretty esoteric ideas. They’re not necessarily smart films because they don’t do a lot of new things with existing speculative concepts. But that’s okay. Who says a dumb action film can’t use smart concepts to propel a relatively straightforward story?
In “Lucy,” Scarlett Johansson plays an reluctant drug mule whose package of mind-altering chemicals sewn into her abdomen starts to leak. The sudden infusion of drugs into her system unlocks the hidden potential in her brain. Soon, she is able to utilize more than just 10 percent of her cognitive potential, giving her amazing control of her body and eventually her environment.
As an unexpected superhero of sorts (who at times plays as an anti-hero due to her often brutal nature and unsaid dismissing of the rest of the world as average “puny” humans, Lucy tries to track down the rest of the drugs, seek revenge on the man who roped her into being a drug mule in the first place and find a way to a higher plane of existence.
In a summer with films like “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (easily one of the dumbest film of the summer, if not the year) that run close to three hours, “Lucy” is a refreshing ride at a breezy 89 minutes. It does not overstay its welcome, flashing through the relatively light plot and having a lot of fun with visually-stimulating action moments.
So far, 2014 has been a banner year for Scarlett Johansson, whom I’ve never been a huge fan of. After handling a meatier part in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and then knocking it out of the park with her turn as an alien being on a journey of self discovery in the art house darling “Under Her Skin,” she needed a movie like this.
“Lucy” has galvanized Johansson as a bona fide movie star and no longer just the secondary lead in romantic comedies. Don’t expect a tightly-wound thriller, but “Lucy” can be a lot of fun, allowing you to disconnect from the noisy world for an hour and a half. It’s what summer movies are all about, and it has no shame in achieving this.