Sunday, 31 August 2014


On the face of it, this is a simple action thriller that begins in Taiwan and ends in Paris - it is after all written and Directed by Luc Besson, so Paris much feature somewhere. If you choose to dig a little deeper this is a film that explores metaphysical themes in an easily accessible way - a bit like The Matrix meets The Tree of Life meets Limitless. However, for me the ease of access is too dominant and rather than some meaty philosophical exploration, all we get is a series of cliches and some nice images that look as though they are lifted from Tree of Life with a small homage paid to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In a voice over at the beginning of the film we hear "Life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it?" At the film's conclusion another voice over tells us "Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what you can do with it." So the film basically thinks that it explores and delivers the answer to the question 'what is the meaning of life?'.

For this to be explored by Scarlett Johansson as Lucy and Morgan Freeman as Professor Norman is an odd mix. Both play their roles very well and it is good to see Johansson's versatility. However, given the subject matter of the film and the way it is explored, I kept expecting to see Freeman in a white suit in the God role!

I won't spoil the plot but the basic premise (as the trailers and ads amply demonstrate) is that Freeman's life-long research into releasing more than the 10% of cerebral capacity that humans use, collides with Johansson's character who achieves the Nirvana of using 100% of her brain. With super-enhanced sensory acuity, Lucy nicely distills the essence of her new-found knowledge by sharing with Norman "We've codified our existence to bring it down to human size, to make it comprehensible, we've created a scale so we can forget its unfathomable scale." In doing this she defines the one true unit by which everything should be measured.

There is plenty of brutal kick-ass action in this film with Chinese gangsters seemingly able to arm themselves at will with a bewildering array of weapons. Every now and again the flow of the dialogue is interrupted to enable the meaning of what is happening on screen to described by words just in case we can't understand for ourselves - doh! The ending however, was anything but staid and predictable and for me it opened up a whole new set of questions - perhaps there'll be a sequel. As an action film this is okay, as a philosophical exploration of the meaning of life, it does make you think - just a little, but it is very lightweight - I'll give it 6/10.


Pitkins said...

Still to see it but movie-buff daughter, Ellie, saw it and commented : 'Lucy' - slightly disappointed in a) the script (some really AWFUL lines like 'I remember the taste of your milk in my mouth' - Scarlett Johansson on the phone to her Mother.) b) the odd filmic choices (several clips of safari wildlife intended to resonate with the film's action, spliced in between real action shots, but inexplicably only used for first bit of the film and never returned to - if you're going to do a 'thing', use it throughout. Really enjoyed the action sequences, as well as Scarlett's performance. It's also only 89mins long, so feels quite tightly rounded off at the end which is refreshing

Duncan Strathie said...

Yes - your daughter has a point but the milk comment is fine in context. I was annoyed by the thing that seems quite common in scripts and seems to be aimed at US audiences in that it's like the whole thing pauses while one of the characters explains the drama you've just watched just in case you didn't get it. Perhaps they are too busy multi-tasking and miss a bit?

The safari and wildlife shots do return later but it's very much in a fantasy kind of way rather than the way they appear in 'Tree of Life' for example.

Still worth watching though.

Pitkins said...

I certainly plan to see it - wouldn't want to miss anything by Luc Besson...

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