Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lucy (2014 film)

Written, directed, and edited by Luc Besson, Lucy is the story of an American woman traveling in Taiwan where she unwillingly becomes a drug mule only for the drugs to get into her system which allows her to access the large capacity of her brain. The film is an exploration of a woman who arrives into Taiwan as a typical woman only to become less human as the effects of a mysterious drug has her access all sorts of things mentally while a professor tries to figure out what is going on with her as Scarlett Johansson would play the titular role. Also starring Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, Analeigh Tipton, and Morgan Freeman. Lucy is an entertaining and captivating film from Luc Besson.

While it is believed that humans only have access to 10% of their brain’s capacity, the film questions about what happens if a human being exceeds that and goes to 100%. That is what the film dares to ask where it revolves around an American student in Taiwan who is forced to become a drug mule for a mysterious drug only for the drug to enter into her body where she is able to access the other 90% of her brain. Throughout her journey, she begins to have powers that goes beyond her mental capabilities as she would ask a famed researcher in Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) about his studies about what the human brain might be able to. While the premise itself does seem far-fetched, Luc Besson knows that even though it does dare to asks some big questions. Especially as he knows that he isn’t trying to do anything seriously at all with these questions except suggest about what might happen if a person would access their brain’s entire capability.

The film’s script does have a sense of humor in the way it asks all of these questions about life and what the human brain can do while it is more about a woman who realizes about these powers she’s having and what they can do. At the same time, she realizes she is becoming less human in the process as she would struggle with what she’s about to lose. Turning to Professor Norman in his research, the two would try to figure things out as Lucy would also gain the help of a French policeman named Del Rio (Amr Waked) to retrieve the three other mules carrying the drug. Still, Lucy and Del Rio would have to deal with the Korean gangster Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik) who wants to use the drug for profit as he and his gang would do whatever to stop Lucy unaware of the drug’s powers. While the script does play into conventions of what is expected from Besson in terms of action and such, he does manage to create a story that is willing to ask some big questions though it would have ideas that are quite ridiculous.

Besson’s direction is definitely stylish as he shoots part of the film in Taipei, Taiwan and in Paris with some bits of Rome and Berlin as it starts off in a comical manner where Lucy talks to a guy she meets about a job she doesn’t want to do. Some of it involves some unique shots and scenes that play into the idea of how someone would gain access to the human brain’s capacity. With Besson as the film’s editor, he would infuse a lot of montages that features images of nature and evolution to play into the idea of humanity itself just as Lucy starts to lose her own humanity to become engrossed with the knowledge that she’s accumulating. While Besson wants to infuse something that is intellectual as well as play into the themes of sci-fi, he does infuse some very spectacular action scenes that are quite entertaining to watch where Besson knows how to present the action and not make it chaotic. Though the overall results of the film is uneven where it wants to be all sorts of things. Besson still manages to make a film that dares to ask some big questions while not wanting to take itself very seriously.

Cinematographer Thierry Arbogast does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the way it captures the vibrancy of the nighttime exterior scenes in Taipei to the more naturalistic look of the scenes in Paris. Production designer Hugues Tissandier and set decorator Evelyne Tissandier do fantastic work with the look of Mr. Jang‘s penthouse as well as the lab where Professor Norman works at. Costume designer Olivier Beriot does terrific work with some of the clothes that Lucy wears in her many adventures.

Visual effects supervisor Nicholas Brooks is brilliant for the design and such that Lucy would see as well as some of the special effects that would revolve around her mind. Sound designers Guillaume Bouchateau, Aymeric Devoldere, and Shannon Mills do superb work with the sound effects in the film as well as in some of the sound montages that would play into Lucy‘s mind. The film’s music by Eric Serra is wonderful for its electronic-based score with some orchestral flourishes while the soundtrack would feature some electronic cuts and classical pieces for one major sequence in the film.

The casting by Nathalie Cheron is amazing as it features some notable small roles from Pilou Asbaek as a guy Lucy met a club and would put her in trouble, Julian Rhind-Tutt as a Limey, Jan Oliver Schroeder and Luca Angeletti as a couple of drug mules, Nicolas Phongpheth as Jang’s top henchman, and Analeigh Tipton as Lucy’s traveling companion in Taiwan. Amr Waked is excellent as the policeman Del Rio as a cop who is the first to see what Lucy can do as he would try to protect her while being the one person she can connect with from a humanity standpoint. Choi Min-sik is brilliant as Jang as this ruthless gangster who is hoping that the drug would make him money as there’s Min-sik has this very deranged quality that makes him a formidable villain.

Morgan Freeman is superb as Professor Samuel Norman as this researcher who realizes that Lucy is the key to the answers for everything he had been wanting to know about as well as the idea of what it might unleash. Finally, there’s Scarlett Johansson in a phenomenal performance as the titular character as this young woman who starts off as a typical American college student who is then put into a dangerous situation. It’s a performance that has Johansson display a lot of wit as well as this ability to be quite somber and eventually become less human as there is this eerie quality to her performance that just adds more weight to everything her character would endure.

While it is a very uneven film in tone, Lucy is still a stellar and fun film from Luc Besson that features an incredible performance from Scarlett Johansson in the titular role. While it is a film that dares to ask some big questions as well as be something that is entertaining though the overall results aren’t great. It is still an action that manages to be something different while showing that Luc Besson still has a few tricks up his sleeve. In the end, Lucy is a worthwhile film from Luc Besson.

Luc Besson Films: (Le Dernier Combat) - (Subway) - (The Big Blue) - (Nikita) - (Atlantis (1992 film)) - (Leon: The Professional) - (The Fifth Element) - (Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc) - (Angel-A) - (Arthur & the Invisibles) - (Arthur and the Revenge of Malthazard) - (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec) - (Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds) - (The Lady (2011 film)) - (The Family (2013 film))

© thevoid99 2014


Anonymous said...

I'm really excited for this one. I've heard mixed reviews on the whole thing, but mostly raves for ScarJo. Your review is great and has me really excited. Nice balanced look at the film; pros and cons.

thevoid99 said...

It's a film where if you don't take it too seriously. You'll enjoy it. It's never boring and plus, Scarlett is just kicking ass.

ruth said...

Glad to hear this is pretty good. I thought the concept is intriguing but Luc Besson is such a hit and miss for me, well more misses actually. I might give this a rent, but not really that interested to see it on the big screen.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-It's actually the best thing Luc Besson has done in quite a long time. It may not be in the level of Leon or The Fifth Element but it is better than a lot of his recent films.