Morgan Freeman must have decided that 2014 is the year he is going to get existential and try to discover the meaning of life with a pair of films both examining the extent of human existence. Earlier this year, he starred in “Transcendence,” which found Johnny Depp giving his body over to computers. He’s following that up with the new film “Lucy,” which proves Freeman might be willing to sign on to any film if the price is right – even if the film isn’t good.
Despite all of the science that might confuse people, “Lucy” is just a basic story of a girl (Scarlett Johansson, in the title role) tricked by her sleazy boyfriend into becoming a drug mule. But when said drugs leak inside of her, rather than overdose, Lucy becomes a superhuman that can access 100 percent of her brain. She doesn’t so much as try to go after the bad guys who did this to her as try to share what the meaning of life is all about with leading scientists. It’s riveting stuff, you guys.
It’s not the pseudo-science that is the problem in “Lucy,” it is the pure absurdity of the whole thing. Luc Besson moves away from giving the audience an action film, which is what the marketing campaign has focused, and instead is attempting to provide an intellectual, thought provoking film. When you intercut nature clips of animals humping, trying to be intellectual is thrown out the window.
Credit must be given to Scarlett Johansson because there are so few actresses that could take on this role and bring credibility to the film. She takes what should be a bad b-grade film and helps to elevate it higher than it really deserves. Even after she begins accessing the extra parts of her brain and basically becoming a human computer, Johansson is able to give off a layered performance that makes you want to root for the character to somehow come out okay on the other side.
Besson’s script and direction is the root of the problem here. Before the first hour is over the film devolves into a “Mystery Science Theater 3000” quality film. Between intercut nature clips to the ludicrous ending, every time you think that “Lucy” couldn’t get more ridiculous, you will be proven wrong. But the most perplexing thing experience at the screening I went to see this, was the clapping that occurred at the end of the film.
A drinking game could easily be played while watching “Lucy,” for all of the inane things that happen. The problem would be that most people would be blacked out drunk before the credits begin rolling. Even with a short 89 minute running time, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.