Ambitious or pretentious, self indulgent twaddle? That's the question you have to ask yourself. Sadly, I would have to opt towards the latter. When I discovered that Luc Besson was making a high profile directorial return to the big screen - having made slightly lower key efforts and happy to take the pay cheque on various action movie gigs in a writer/producer capacity - I yearned for the halcyon days of Nikita, The Fifth Element and Leon (a favourite of mine). Unfortunately, Lucy is not that movie. If you watch the trailer, it was clearly designed to look like a completely different movie to the one we actually get, and excludes all the batsh*t crazy stuff that appears in the second half of the film.
Remember From Dusk Till Dawn? Where it seemingly begins as a crime/heist thriller and then at the halfway point turns into something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Well, Lucy is like that - except not in a good way. What begins as an action/crime thriller with a side order of sci-fi turns into a bizarre amalgamation of X-men, philosophical musings and theories on existentialism. As we get towards the final act, it feels like Luc Besson himself had taken the experimental drug CPH4 himself halfway through writing the script. It totally goes off the rails in a way that makes Limitless seem like a completely plausible plot-line that could happen in reality. The drug mule/Korean gangsters element of the plot is rendered irrelevant and it feels like the gangsters opened a portal into another movie.
It's such a shame as the film begins very intriguingly, and we are thrown straight into the action without much messing about. I like films that get straight to the point without wasting too much time. Scarlett Johansson's Lucy is an American student in Taiwan, and the dodgy guy that she's met whilst there forces her to deliver a briefcase to Korean gangster Mr. Jang (Oldboy himself Choi Min Sik). These early scenes are amongst the best the movie has to offer as it reminds us why we like Luc Besson movies, veering from tension and humour simultaneously within the same scene. It's still looking good until just after the drugs have exploded inside her stomach. And then it goes down quicker than a cheap hooker as events take an increasingly bizarre and far fetched turn removed well beyond the realms of acceptability.
Scarlett Johansson is actually really good as the titular character. To begin with, she's just a normal party girl caught up in an crazy turn of events.Elsewhere, Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman-lite. He always good, but he's capable of better. I want the Morgan Freeman of Driving Miss Daisy, Shawshank and Se7en dammit! He's Robert De Niro in Limitless. The brilliant Korean actor Choi Min Sik tries his best Gary Oldman but there's nothing for him in the script, and it's pretty much a thankless Asian gangster role. Anyone could have played the part, such is the waste.After her transformation into a mutant god being, she becomes alien-like with a complete lack of empathy for human beings. I've not seen it, but I believe its invited comparisons to her performance in Under The Skin. I put it up there with Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen. There's a very good scene where Lucy has a phone conversation before she loses her humanity, just about hanging onto her ability to feel emotion before it vanishes.
Most annoying of all, it just ends abruptly, almost as if Besson had come down from his CPH4 high and thought "omg what have I just written? Hmm..........THE END." Trust me when I say that, unless you have one of those unlimited monthly passes, Lucy is not worth the trip and expense of the cinema. I wouldn't even recommend a blu ray purchase.
*N.B. This review is from when I saw it in the cinema*