A 59% rating on Rotten Tomatoes is being generous to this movie.
I truly mean it, critics have been lenient, lenient, lenient on “Lucy,” the new film by director Luc Besson. I’ll never understand how a director that gave us “Le Femme Nikita” and “The Professional” all of sudden started making crap like “The Fifth Element” “The Messanger: Story of Joan of ark,” and “The Family.” But I think he’s taken a major downgrade shift in his career and we are all the poorer for it. But I honestly can’t believe what critics are latching themselves onto as they walked out of “Lucy.” Where they drawn to the film’s ambition? Where they drawn to the films message that mankind isn't living up to its potential? Whatever the case, I remain puzzled that the percentage of positive and negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes is so high for “Lucy,” because underneath the special effects, acting and ambition, this is a soulless, lifeless movie that structurally confused and mind-fumblingly brain-dead.
I remember snickering once or twice during the commercials for this movie. I laughed at the moment when Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) says “We only use 10% of our brains, imagine if we could use 100% of our brains capacity.” The 10% brain myth is just that, a myth. Go and do some research before sitting down to watch “Lucy.” I know that we are currently in the month of July and “Lucy” fits the bill of dumb, summer fun, but we begin our journey with Lucy (Scarlett Johnasson) in a blisteringly dumb state of mind. We use more than 10% of our brains capacity and scientists are just beginning to understand how efficiently and how well we use our brains. If you haven’t seen “Lucy” yet, and if the dumb science will bother you, skip entirely. This is a movie that at one hour and twenty-two minutes is over before it really begins, and although it is part action-movie, the action sequences are so preposterously boring that you will probably take a nap during them.
If the film’s only flaw was using the 10% brain capacity myth as a starting point, I think I could have forgiven the rest of the film. But “Lucy” goes on to tell us that math doesn't explain the universe or our way of life and that only time does, even though you learn how to tell time during math class. I have loved brainless action movies before and I probably will in the future. If the film was confident in itself, if it allowed itself to engage and entertain its audience, if everybody tried to take this film’s idea with fun and pride, I’d be all for it. But “Lucy” never feels like it wants to entertain. Like I said, the action sequences fall flat. The acting is just mediocre at best. I think Scarlett Johnasson does what she can and she tries hard to make her lead role matter. She certainly makes her action scenes count, that is for sure. But her character is so stiff and so unexplored that it’s hard to gauge her. There is a moment in “Lucy” where she has gained so much of her brain power that she no longer feels emotion and she suddenly turns into a robot the rest of the movie, yes a human robot. She was so unbelievably boring to watch the last half of the film that I had a severe headache. Morgan Freeman also does what he can in his role, but he is in so little of the movie that his participation is puzzling. His lecture in the trailers adds up to about 89% of his screen-time.
Another glaring problem is that the film wants to do two jobs at the same time. “Lucy” ends up being another example of if the director chose to tell one of the two stories he is trying to tell rather than the two stories he wants to tell, the movie would have been better. One story revolves around Lucy, who gets tricked into becoming a mole for Korean gangster Mr. Jang (The awesome Choi Min-sik). The new, experimental drug accidentally ruptures inside of Lucy’s body and she begins to react to it, thus unlocking the rest of her brain capacity. She then decides to help the police recover the rest of the drugs being shipped all over the world. Then another, smaller story revolves around Professor Norman, who is teaching college students what can happen if someone were to possess 100% of their brain capacity, which leads to one of the most bewilderingly silly college lectures ever committed to film. Lucy will eventually meet up with Professor Norman so that they can understand each other. For what reason, the film never gives a good enough answer. The movie is too busy trying to shoehorn in crazy, telepathic fights, car chases and gun fights and doesn't do a good job explaining the boundaries and discoveries of brain capacity, even though the movie is trying really hard to be smart.
I have to say that I love Choi Min-sik. He was the lead character in the original “Oldboy” movie that was released in 2003 (or 2005 depending on which country you live in and whether or not you attend film festivals.), I have talked about his films numerously already on this blog, from “I Saw The Devil” to “New World.” He is a great, overseas talent and I love that he is becoming a face of American movies. But once again, there is no way for American audiences to really understand this actors talent, he’s barely on the screen. We don’t get to know and understand any of our characters because we spend the whole movie focusing on boring Lucy starring at people, starring into the sky, or starring into the mirror. It is funny how boring our lead character is, and how the film wastes the supporting players.
Like I stated above, the film makes a couple faint comments on the idea of humans not living up to their potential, but neither does this movie. How can you argue such a topic when you try to tell two stories in a movie that runs way under two hours? How can you try to educate people on brain capacity when your facts are nowhere near straight? How can you argue that this is an action movie when the most exhilarating thing that happens is Miss Johnasson starring into the abyss? I think director Luc Besson should have understood the potential for this idea, mindless action movie or not, before sitting in the director’s chair. I find this “Lucy” to be a huge miscalculation and a missed opportunity. Shame, this one looked awesome.
FINAL GRADE: D-