Film and TV

Reviews for the Easily Distracted:

Title: Lucy

Would You Take A Drug That Allowed You To Use 100 Percent Of Your Brain? If you did, you probably wouldn't be allowed to live in America anymore.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: One-and-a-half Brains from the Planet Arous out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Woman unlocks vast potential of the human mind, allowing her to solve both the secret of NIMH *and* the secret of the ooze, probably.

Tagline: "The average person uses 10 percent of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100 percent."

Better Tagline: "Even if that were true (it isn't), you'd still only need one percent to watch Lucy."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Who is Lucy (Scarlett Johansson)? Is she a party girl? A dutiful student (she says she has exams)? It doesn't really matter, because within ten minutes she's delivering a suitcase of new drug CPH4 in her recently deceased boyfriend's stead to Taiwanese gangster Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik), who in turn wants her to help carry the drug overseas. When the drug is accidentally released into her bloodstream, she discovers she has powers (though not political powers) beyond human ability, and so seeks out Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), the one man who might be able to use her to validate his bullshit brain theories help her manage her new-found abilities..

"Critical" Analysis: I take no real joy in telling you Lucy is such a disappointment. Johansson seems a decent sort, and has made enough interesting role choices of late (Don Jon, Her, Under the Skin) to show she isn't taking her Avengers success for granted, while Choi Min-sik is a fine actor and deserves some recognition outside of Park Chan-wook's movies.

And everybody loves Morgan Freeman, right? He was Easy Reader, for crying out loud.

It's a solid cast, and given a thoughtful script that offered an interesting take on the "10 percent brain myth," Lucy might have ended up an engaging — or at least watchable — affair.

Unfortunately, Lucy was written (as well as directed) by Luc Besson. Admittedly, the man has done some memorable work. La Femme Nikita, The Professional, and — for some — The Fifth Element are his standout directorial efforts. Some of his earlier screenplays were also interesting, if occasionally preposterous affairs. Banlieue 13 and even The Transporter series could at least be recommended for their action sequences.

Besson's recent output, however, would seem to indicate the man is either a) supporting a monstrous cocaine habit, b) hiding a catastrophic brain injury from his loved ones, or c) no longer giving a single fuck. Three Days to Kill? Lockout? TAKEN 2? Hell, I (sort of) liked The Family, but I'm apparently the only person in North America who did.

Lucy is more of the same mostly nonsensical gibberish we've come to expect from Late Period Besson (TAKEN 2!). Worse, he seems to be dragging others down to his level of incoherence. Johansson is usually reliable, but apparently tapping into the awesome power of the mind makes one stare, unblinking, like a perplexed dog (and occasionally disarming bad guys ... WITH HER MIND). Besson's sole direction for Choi was apparently "imitate Gary Oldman," and Freeman has to intone solemnly about the mind-blowing possibilities if someone miraculously accessed all those hidden brain lobes nobody knows anything about.

Oh right, there aren't any.

There are some mildly entertaining action sequences in the second act (after some interstitials of cheetahs killing an antelope that are clumsily meant to denote Lucy's ensnarement by the evil gangsters), but the film's stupidity increases in direct proportion to Lucy's growing mind mojo. At not even 2/3 power, she can disarm/disable armies of thugs, yet her situational awareness comes and goes like AM reception in a parking garage. Oh, but we don't really know how the brain works, man, so this could all be entirely plausible.

I'll just leave with this, when Morgan Freeman - in glasses - standing at *a podium* - isn't convincing enough to sell the bullshit premise, that's saying something. Lucy is the Amway of science fiction.

Lucy is in theaters today. My brain hurts.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar