Luc Besson has had an affinity for his female heroines throughout his entire career. From Leon: The Professional to The Fifth Element, Besson has always made femininity beautiful, complicated, and the clear dominant gender. With Lucy, Besson has eliminated the obstacles, giving his female lead control of everything. Whether this all works coherently in the film is another story entirely.
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is in the wrong place at the wrong time during a bad deal with terrible people. Like an animal being stalked and hunted, Lucy is dragged and drugged by a group of men led by a bloody handed tyrant named Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi). She is forced into being a drug trafficker, with the transport being her body. An altered genetic narcotic, the drug is broken inside her body by some forceful men wanting to take further advantage of her. The drug coursing through Lucy expands her cerebral potential, giving her power beyond reason.
Besson utilizes numerous styles and genres in arranging Lucy. Science fiction attributes are continuous amongst the usual impressive action setups and crime film influences, but also some interesting narrative applications. At one point Lucy is dragged into dangerous participation with some unsavory characters. While the men slowly move in and surround her, Besson intercuts nature scenes of lions stalking prey. Subtle? Not really, but that doesn’t seem to matter at this point. It’s just an interesting way to strip the story down to basic functions of human behavior.
The narrative incorporates a simplistic theory of complicated material explained by Morgan Freeman, who is playing Professor Norman. Freeman has an uncanny ability to make even the most illogical statements seem reasonable and his skill is very much needed here. The extraordinary ability Lucy develops becomes so outlandish that anything more fundamentally based would immediately derail the story. The narrative has difficulty keeping up with the advancing elements of Lucy’s enlightenment, and this has a tendency to make the pacing uneven. Though once the story navigates into these far-out realms, Freeman’s character does a decent job of tour guiding the science into a comprehendible hypothesis. Scarlett Johansson’s good performance allows her to handle the hyperkinetic storytelling Besson is known for. Johansson is versatile, switching from a reluctant girlfriend into a dominating superhero of sorts with ease.
Luc Besson builds his action films with less emphasis on narrative and more on character development that accommodates his unique action visions. With Lucy, Besson has crafted his mightiest female force. It will be interesting to see where he takes his feminine characters next. While the film lacks the intellectual coherence of other, better science fiction films, it makes up for it with creative style and imagination.
Movie Score: 3/5