Lately, there's been a lot of talk in films about humans only using 10% of their brain. We've heard this for years, and while this has been proven flatly untrue, Luc Besson's Lucy forms 90 minutes of this pseudo-science into an uneven mess.
When Johansson is not on screen, the scene dies almost instantly, lost in a mix of pseudo-science and somewhat enjoyable action that never places our heroine in any real danger once she's exposed to the drug. True, the idea is to follow Lucy through her transformation, but the story does suffer once it's clearly established that no one and nothing can hurt her. That leaves audiences with one of two scenarios: enjoy the transformation or hope Besson shifts the emphasis somewhere else. Not only does the latter not happen, but Besson keeps changing the rules regarding her powers. There are points throughout where she seems as human as Professor Norman or any of the other goons and nerd-heads that overpopulate the screen. Even though the rules have been established of her growing omnipotence, Lucy can't seem to stop a gun or protect herself on a consistent basis.
Transcendence. The moment she can harness such powers should fundamentally change the story, yet all it does is get lost in a minutia of long-winded speeches by Freeman and Johansson about life and seeking a higher purpose to it, while needless action set pieces occur around them.. And still, no one is worried about what this transformation can mean, either for mankind or for people's ability to not have Lucy infiltrating their systems. The only thing about Transcendence that did work was generating real worry that a being connected to everything represented a danger ala Skynet. Here, Norman and his boys actually encourage it because they want her data. What a waste.
Don't get me wrong, there are things here which do work. Besson neither flinches from ending Lucy's corporeal existence, nor does he deny her from a satisfying revenge sequence. ScarJo does her best Black Widow without the leather and tall boots, battling to retain her humanity in the process, all while Besson puts together a satisfying car chase as Jang as the cops descend on her. Composer Eric Serra's mix of electronic beats and orchestrated score serves the movie well, and Choi is a pretty entertaining bad guy. With another 10 minutes of exposition, all the Matrix-like shenanigans and ScarJo's irresistible features would have had a deeper meaning.
Lucy is rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality and has a runtime of 90 minutes.
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