FlixChatter Review: LUCY (2014)

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A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Luc Besson is a hit and miss director for me. Of his recent works, The Family was abhorrent, but The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec has its charm, so I proceeded this one with caution. The premise of this action sci-fi is rather preposterous, but that goes with the territory with Besson.

Scarlett Johansson portrays both sides of Lucy convincingly, before and after the *transformation.* She started out as a typical wild & fun-loving college student who inadvertently got involved in some serious mess when one of his party buddies forced her to deliver a suitcase to a Korean mafioso at a hotel. Naturally she’s scared witless and utterly confused as to what the heck’s going on and you truly felt for Lucy in this scenario. When she was brutally assaulted by her captors, the powerful drug that’s sewn into her abdomen was accidentally released into her system. Well, all hell break lose as Lucy then sets out to avenge her captors.

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Despite the preposterous action sequences, I was quite engrossed in Lucy’s journey even as she quickly transform into some kind of a super-heroine with off-the-chart cerebral and physical prowess. If you’re familiar w/ Besson’s work, you can expect over-the-top bloody shoot-outs and of course, exhilarating car chases. It’s odd though that even though the setting is mostly in Taiwan, the villains all speak Korean.

Morgan Freeman is playing yet another wise-guy of sort, something he could do in his sleep practically but he’s still watchable even when he spent most of his time here looking perplexed. He plays Professor Norman, a well-known scientist whose research happens to be on brain’s cerebral capacity and he ends up being Lucy’s ally. Choi Min-sik is effortlessly sinister as the sadistic Korean drug kingpin. Amr Waked, whom I really liked in Salmon Fishing in The Yemen, has a small but memorable supporting role as a Parisian police captain. The star here is definitely Scarlett, she’s definitely has the charisma and star power as the protagonist. A lesser actress would’ve turned Lucy into a cyborg-like creature, but she’s still able to display a sense of vulnerability. There is an emotional moment when she calls her mother, knowing that the power of the drug will soon consume her. There’s a rumor that the role was initially offered to Besson’s ex Milla Jovovich, I doubt I’d even be interested in this if she had been in the lead.

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Now, the movie attempts to be philosophical and it doesn’t quite work. I just don’t think Besson has it in him to really explore the depth of such a question about ‘the meaning of life’ and such, he’s more interested in the action. The *science* presented here is absurd, but hey, it’s science fiction after all, the logic-defying thing is sort of expected. At the same time, it’s actually not as vapid as it may seem, in fact, it’s engrossing enough that I was willing to go along for the ride. And that’s a pretty thrilling ride down to its wacky and bombastic conclusion.

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Have you seen Lucy? Well, what did YOU think?

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56 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: LUCY (2014)

  1. My daughter and I are fans of LUCY, and rate it a tad higher (4 stars). Yeah, the science behind this is questionable, but the execution (and Scarlett’s performance) make this worthwhile for us. She had me in that heartfelt scene talking with her mother on the phone and kicked ass from that point forward.. For sure, this divides many out there who’ve seen it. Glad to know you’re on the angel’s side of things, Ruth 😉

    1. Hi Michael! I mentioned that exact scene here, that’s what made me care about Lucy and was invested in the journey. It’s got some scenes that are totally bonkers and of course the *science* is all purely fiction but I enjoyed it! One of Besson’s hits thanks largely to Scarlett’s performance!

  2. Tom

    Very cool to see some support of this from Flixchatter! 🙂 I couldn’t buy into it as much, but I have this incredible tendency to overthink everything! Lol. Nice little write-up Ruth

    1. Hi Tom! So you’re not a fan eh? I think w/ Besson’s movies, it’s best not to overthink it. Even though you could only do so much as I absolutely hated The Family!

  3. Nice write up Ruth. For me the visuals were what sold it – especially since I saw this at the theaters for that very reason. The science was as you said absurd and hard to get over for me, and the action scenes were so unbelievably underwhelming it is hard to imagine this guy made Leon and the 5th Element. But the visuals, especially when Freeman is lecturing and there are numerous cuts of wildlife spliced in there… some of the best non-CGI visuals I have ever seen.

    You obviously were more forgiving than me in the science and action departments. Glad to see you enjoyed this one Ruth, Besson is one frustrating mofo. Should stick to producing, I am pretty sure I saw his name as a producer credit on ‘The Homesman’ which was a fucking GREAT Tommy Lee Jones flick.

    If you are interested Ruth, this is what I thought: http://wp.me/p4P9IW-2B

    Another enjoyable read. Glad I found your site! 🙂

    1. Hi Jordan! Yeah the visuals are crazy cool, I bet it looks great on the big screen. Was it on 3D? I think Scarlett somehow elevated the material for me. Yeah, those cuts of wildlife are pretty cool. I’d agree w/ you that Besson probably should stick to producing. I had no idea he produced The Homesman, isn’t that a Western? I didn’t even know he’s into that genre.

      I’ll check out your review!

      1. Ohhh Ruth it looked immense on the big screen! Especially those scenes I mentioned. Gave me chills. It wasn’t in 3D – 3D doesn’t work for me, cos of my epilepsy I think, but this didn’t need 3D it looked -that- good. I also agree that Scarlett really elevates the material, anyone else and it would have been almost a disaster. She isn’t as good as she was in Under The Skin, but she is easily the best female actor IMO and practically carries the second half of Lucy.

        And yeah, The Homesman is a western, yet its not a western… hard to eloborate without rewriting half my review. Its a strong movie, not what you’d expect at all. If you’re at all interested Ruth, http://wp.me/p4P9IW-4l is what I thought of it. Its extremely unique, dunno, it might be something you’d like. It is very much a feminist movie, if you can believe that! A feminist western! 😛

        Ach sorry I’ll stop spamming you now :S

        1. Awesome Jordan! Yeah 3D is often unnecessary and it gives me headache too when it’s not done well. I haven’t seen Under the Skin yet, but curious about seeing Scarlett’s performance there too.

          A feminist western eh? Interesting, I’ll check out what it’s about. I do like Tommy Lee Jones.

  4. Irene McKenna

    Excellent review! I’ll probably give this a miss, but it definitely sounds like it had its moments. It sounds like it should have stuck with being just good, crazy fun and steered away from getting philosophical.

  5. It’s not a great movie but it’s so fun to watch. Scarlett was on her A-game. She looked like she was having a blast. Plus, there’s that level of confidence that she brings in her performance as she is becoming an actress that can bring the goods.

    1. Yeah, I really dig Scarlett here though I’m not always a fan of her work. You’re right she looks effortlessly confident, no wonder she’s been getting great roles of late.

  6. You’re absolutely right about this one. The “science” behind this is ridiculous, but the movie manages to work. Lots of it is due to ScarJo. She is really good. And that phone call scene is a kick in the gut. Still working on my own review. Hopefully it’ll be up on a few days.

    1. Scarlett has always been a confident actress but here she also gets to show her vulnerability and it works. Glad you like this one too, Dell!

  7. I wanted to see this for ScarJo but haven’t yet. I know it’s not really supposed to be that good, but I’m down to watch a ridiculous movie if it has Scarlett Johansson beating people up ha ha! And that basically sounds like what this is, I’m glad she’s good in it 🙂

    1. Hi Melissa! Scarlett is the main draw for me to see this and she did not disappoint. She’s quite bad ass in this one, even more so than Black Widow! 🙂

  8. This actually looks fun! I agree if Milla was involved it probably wouldn’t be intriguing, but Scarlett, unlike Milla, is capable of being believable as a human being.

    1. Hi Sati! I think w/ Milla, it’ll be just a standard scifi shoot-em-up, but Scarlett is a much more capable actress so the film benefits more from her casting.

  9. Abbi

    I HATED this movie. Absolutely none of it made any sense to me. First of all Lucy is a really unlikable character after her brain capacity increases. Basically she just goes around shooting anyone who as much as looks at her funny. Apparently this is because the increased capacity cuts her off from her human emotions… but then her entire purpose seems to be to share all her knowledge with humanity. Why? If she can’t be arsed with any of us anyway, why would she need give a monkey’s about whether we knew the secrets of the universe. And what does she need Professor Norman for? She knows everything.

    1. Ahah, well there are tons of things that don’t make sense here, but for some reason I was game for the ride. I actually think that the fact that she doesn’t shoot her surgeons and even the main villain, when she could’ve easily done that, made me think she hasn’t completely lost her humanity. Ah well, it’s a bummer you didn’t enjoy this Abbi, but we can’t always agree on everything right? 😉

  10. I’ll probably rent this one since it’s available on Redbox now. Besson is kind of a cross between a real hack and decent director. His work, mostly the writing, are quite amateurish to me. I just watched 3 DAYS TO KILL, there were some good parts and too many parts felt like it’s written by a rookie writer or someone who’ve never written a screenplay before. Also, I was never a fan of Leon or The Fifth Element. His best film is still Le Femme Nikita.

    1. Yeah I think you’re right, he’s in between hack & a real talent. I absolutely hated The Family so since then I always proceed w/ caution every time I saw his name I actually didn’t mind 3 Days to Kill so much, but like you said some parts seem so amateurish. I still need to see La Femme Nikita though.

      1. I really enjoyed the first hour of 3 DAYS TO KILL, reminded me of the old French and Italian films of the 60s. But the whole plot of him trying to be a father to his teenage daughter just got tiresome and boring. You saw POINT OF NO RETURN right? It’s a carbon copy of La Femme Nikita but Besson’s version was better to me.

  11. I haven’t seen much recent movies from Luc Besson, some of his older ones are pretty enjoyable. I’ll probably give Lucy a try after reading this. I think what put me off was that other reviews weren’t favorable and Lucy was on quite a few worst movie lists of last year.

    1. Yeah his older ones are much better than his latest efforts I think. This one is pretty good I think, though I’m not surprised that some didn’t dig it. Whatever you do though, avoid The Family!

  12. This has always struck me as a cross between Wanted and Limitless in its concept. I’ve read many scathing reviews, Ruth, but I’m happy to see this get a fairly decent rating. Besson can do this type of thing well, when he puts his mind to it.

    1. Hello Mark! Haven’t seen Limitless yet but I could see the similarities w/ Wanted, though Jolie seems to be bad ass even without any kind of substance, ha! This one is worth a look, just don’t overthink about the plot and enjoy the ride 🙂

    1. Ahah well that’s Besson for you, but luckily Scarlett was able to retain my interest. And I really like Amr Waked so nice to see him show up too!

  13. Completely agree with your take on this one, Ruth. Johansson definitely had the chops and charisma to keep me interested but the “forced” philosophical elements of the film didn’t work for me. Also, yes, The Family, how absolutely DIRE was that!?

    1. Hello there V! Sorry I’ve been sick w/ a cold so blogging has been slow lately. I was glad to find this was much better than The Family, which was promising given the stellar cast.

  14. Nice review. I have to admit I am in the group of people that just hated this movie. Maybe I should give it another shot, but it just felt too disjointed for me to follow. Also, the fact that she becomes so all powerful so early on that there was no danger she could believably be in to create any drama. That said, I watched it with my wife who absolutely loved it. So I see there is SOMETHING here.

    1. Hi Jules, welcome to FC! Hey that’s totally ok, I think Besson’s work is not for everyone. Heck I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. Somehow I enjoyed seeing Scarlett here and somehow she made it work despite its bonkers premise.

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