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Lucy

Lucy

Lucy doesn't end up in the sky with diamonds, but
maybe she should have

dir: Luc Besson

2014

Mr Luc Besson: I don’t know what drugs you have access to, doubtless being able to afford shit the rest of us could only dream of; stuff so far above Class A drugs that they’re not even manufactured from ingredients found in this solar system.

Thing is, we don’t need to know about it. Whatever experiences you had taking magic mushies, DMT or ayahuasca with South American shamans, or even more obscure drugs snorted from the navels of Russian hookers, they’re for you to bore your fellow drug takers with. Sober people aren’t interested. Just like when you wake up having had a particularly vivid dream, why bother trying to play it out for someone else? That shit’s never going to make sense to another person.

“And then the priest came in, and this is the best bit, he was holding a tennis racket, and he was whacking this lady’s pineapple with it, and then we were flying, and I was saying to my girlfriend, who’d turned into Cardinal Richelieu, “Argle bargle” and he/she said back to me “Foofaraw” before we grew massive flippers and swam away.”

Cut that shit out. Or, maybe, instead spend a massive amount of money (for a European movie) bringing your delusions of humanity’s potential to the big screen for all of us to delight in.

If this was meant to be taken seriously, obviously, it would be a complete and utter fiasco. It just so happens that the flick inexplicably manages to stay just on the right side of owning its own ridiculousness such that it almost makes up for the completely bonkers stuff that goes down.

The “Scarlett Johansson Must Be in Every Second Movie” law must have been passed last year, because now it’s harder to see movies without her in them than the reverse. She’s in bloody everything! It’s not like she needs the money, or maybe she does, since she’s a mum now. Kids need money. Those nappies and Baby Einstein books and Guatemalan nannies don’t grow on trees, you know.

Well, Johansson’s determination not to turn any roles down means she gets to be in stuff you’d otherwise think is beneath her. This may be, or is, a movie you’d file under the science-fiction heading, but it’s nothing at all like the most recent ‘sci-fi’ flick she starred in, at least that I’ve seen, being Under the Skin. The two flicks couldn’t be more different if they tried.

As such, pervs hoping to see nudity or inhuman behaviour need not apply. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe the journey she goes on here as being ‘fun’, but there’s a certain joyful idiocy to the proceedings here; an irrepressible energy as impossible to contain as the transformations the heroine of the piece undergoes.

Why’s this called Lucy? The hapless protagonist is called Lucy, as played by Johansson, which isn’t much of a fucking surprise, I’ll grant you. But this is Luc Besson being what he thinks is clever. As Lucy’s sweaty, stupid boyfriend asks her at the beginning, did she know that the first person was called Lucy? Yeah, he read that somewhere.

Yep, the first human was called Lucy. No-one else was around, and she wasn’t a human, but somehow she was called Lucy.

Perhaps it would be slightly more accurate to point out that Lucy is the name the palaeontologists involved chose to give the discovered fossilised bones of one of our early hominid ancestors dating back to about 3 million years ago. Because I’m sure they neither found an id bracelet on her, a tattoo, or a copy of her long form birth certificate.

Plus, she’s not called Lucy in the Bible either, she’s called Eve, so it must all be a Darwinian conspiracy.

If it seems silly that I would bang on about our alleged ancestor, mother of us all, it might seem even sillier were I to tell you that Lucy, the Lucy, as in, an example of Australopithecus afarensis keeps getting screen time in the movie. It’s one of the greatest or silliest or both ideas in film history, or at least of this year.

Lucy finds herself, through no fault of her own, in a pickle. Somehow this American flibbertigibbet finds herself at the mercy of a mean South Korean gangster and his massive army of goons. This South Korean gangster, Mr Jang (Choi Min-sik) seemingly based in Taipei, doesn’t have a lot of respect for people’s boundaries. In fact, for no good reason, he seems to be happy killing whole bunches of people for no discernible purpose. And he’s happy to invade their personal spaces.

Our Heroine is not in the life, she isn’t familiar with this side of awfulness, so she’s horribly freaked out. These guys don’t fuck around, and they’re not done with her just yet.

There’s this magical synthetic drug, see? CPH4 or something similar. The goons want to smuggle the drug all over the place, and they force Lucy and some other poor bastards to smuggle these huge blue bags of drugs inside their bodies.

Johansson has to undergo a transformation. She starts off playing a trashy strumpety looking ditz for the first few minutes. Then she’s just a terrified victim. And a bit later, after undergoing an involuntary drug trial the FDA would certainly not approve of, she slowly starts becoming a god.

That’s Balderdash, baby, you may scoff. How fucking foolish and droolish. No drug can make you a god. Well, that’s where Science! comes into play. See, if it sounds ridiculous, why not get Morgan Freeman to deliver the exposition and do the heavy lifting? It works with penguins and political documentaries. He’s played the president AND he’s played God a couple of times, so if anyone can pull it off, maybe it’s him?

Neuroscientist Professor Norman (Freeman) is coincidentally delivering lectures on just what would happen to a human if their brain’s ‘potential’ was somehow unlocked through science or magic. Freaky, isn’t it, that just as Lucy starts transforming, with the neurons of her brain somehow becoming supercharged through the drug, some guy somewhere in front of a bunch of people who doesn’t know anything about her begins describing the array of abilities and powers that she starts exhibiting?

The whole “humans only use 10 per cent of their brains” bullshit was debunked a long time ago, I mean a LOOOOONG time ago. There’s no point ranting about it again. I do it every time it’s unthinkingly quoted in movies, and I count it as one of the most pernicious and deliberately deceptive myths of the modern era. And thought it plays a big part of the alleged narrative, I can easily ignore it.

Why? Because every amazing, silly, jaw-dropping thing that happens to Lucy is less about that 10% and more about someone becoming something transcendent. This isn’t a great performance by Johansson, in fact it’s not even close to her best this year, with solid performances in a multitude of recent flicks. In fact I would argue it’s probably a pretty piss-weak performance. The thing is, it hardly matters. The flick is so high concept, and goes so deliberately and humorously bonkers that her nervy initial performance and her flat, affectless subsequent performance pale in importance in the face of that.

It’s also pretty short, which delighted me no end.

I can’t pretend that anything that transpires here is really that illuminating. There’s a quote towards the end that says something like, and this really doesn’t spoil anything because it’s so not true, Lucy intones drily to us “Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what to do with it.”

Well, actually, to be honest, no, we don’t, definitely not because of anything we saw in this film. Is the thing we’re supposed to ‘do’ the following: get kidnapped by Korean gangsters and impregnated with blue cell-altering drugs so we can slip the surly bonds of matter and fly through the cosmos and through time itself? The only way this ‘positive’ message is at all a recommendation, or a call to arms, is in the most tepid, generic sense, as in “well, we’ve all got potential, let’s go out there and make it happen, kids!”

Ah, total bullshit. Who cares? It’s enough to see the crazy stuff that Lucy ends up doing. It’s enough to listen to Morgan Freeman deliver dialogue he clearly can’t even pretend makes any sense, or that he has any grasp of, or that he’s thinking of anything other than the nice payday a couple of hours of work garnered him.

And plus he’s thinking how hot Lucy looks when she’s transforming into a freaky black alien super computer thingie!

If you wanted to watch a flick where a girl takes massive quantities of drugs and flies through time just barely avoiding dinosaurs and touching fingertips with our ancestors, and also gets to kill a bunch of Koreans, well, you’ll never see anything else like Lucy.

7 times bonkers crazy-stupid flicks are sometimes more entertaining than smarter more serious flicks shock horror out of 10

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“Life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it?” – well, some of us squander it writing reviews of deeply silly films - Lucy

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