Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Lucy

Wow I did not want to watch this movie. I remember when the first trailer appeared and the only--ONLY thought that went through my head was, "That's not real science. 10% brain usage is an urban myth." Now, admittedly, I forgave Limitless for using the same damned myth, but ... well a few things went into that. I completely missed it the first time I saw Limitless. I just rewatched it to make sure I didn't jam my foot in my mouth while reviewing Lucy. So there's that. It's glossed over instead of being front and center, and very much not the focus of the movie. Bradley Cooper's character Eddie remains relatable even as the story progresses. Lucy purposefully does not. Lucy also keep touting the 10% brain usage myth like a newspaper barker yelling a shitty headline. 

Most Idiotic Review

"[Lucy] smartly goes in a wildly different direction than the amusingly amoral Limitless, in which Bradley Cooper's character abused a similar drug, but used it to gain success, money and power. He was selfish. Lucy is selfless."

Uh-huh. Does anyone else remember that scene near the beginning when she shoots a dozen or more people? And Bradley Cooper kills ... a handful of henchmen? And considering the distinction in capabilities between Cooper's character and Johansson's ... well, you see where I'm going. 

Most Accurate Review

"[Besson] seems more interested in engaging, playfully yet seriously, with the various biological, philosophical and metaphysical riddles that [the film] raises," the story is lacking as an action film and is not "much of a thriller – it's virtually an anti-thriller, devoid of suspense or any real sense of danger due to the fact that its heroine is more or less invincible," and that "at times it's hard to shake the sense that a smarter, more unbridled picture might have found a way to slip the bonds of genre altogether." — Chang 

This is one of my bigger complaints about the film. The ultimate conflict of the story is for Lucy to pass on her newfound knowledge. There is a distinct sense of message (delivered via 2x4 method of insertion) ... less sense of plot. Seeing as Lucy becomes devoid of her humanity (much like Doctor Manhattan did in the Watchmen, and we now know how dull a fill about Alan Moore's God-like character as protagonist might have been.)

What I Say

Boy I'll do my best to refrain from swearing too much, although it's hard. The Telegraph said that the themes of this film derive from Kantian models of transcendental idealism. Great. I shoulda known that between this and Besson's history (The Fifth Element) that I was in for a treatment as kind as a chemical bath for my ballsack. At least Kant was one of Ayn Rand's boogey-men. 

Plot — After being duped by a trick that I don't even think would have worked on a Looney Toon by her boyfriend of two weeks, Lucy ends up a drug runner for a mysterious new drug that enhances a person's measly ten percent brain capacity to superhuman levels, allowing for telekinesis, telepathy, physiological manipulation (including the dead cells in your hair in case you need a makeover), time travel, etc. 

Basically she gets some drug leaked on her and becomes God, and longtime fans of my blog might notice I don't normally capitalize that word, but I'm capitalizing it here. Why? I think this character could wipe the floor with most of Marvel's lineup of Planet-Killers. F*** Thanos and Apocalypse. This drug is more powerful than them all.

Also, curious to note, I don't recall any other examples of people using the drug in the film. Like ... I assume someone must have tried to OD on the damn thing before. Also I can't find much evidence that CPH4 operates at all the way the movie describes it.

So, as I said, Lucy is on her way to transfer her vast new intellect (including the taste of her mother's breastmilk) to the world. She also kills a bunch of dudes. Luckily, the other drug runners (who run surprisingly well for guys with drugs surgically inserted into their 'lower tummys') are all heading to France, so local police captain Pierre Del Rio can apprehend the remaining CPH4 and Lucy can be in the same city as Morgan Freeman's highly misinformed scientist, who keeps blathering on about the 10% myth.

I know I'm overreacting to this, but I'll unashamedly say this pissed me off more than Ninja Turtles, which while stupid, wasn't trying to ram some pseudo-philosophical bull down our throats.

Characters — So we have Lucy, who becomes less and less human as her mental capacities increase. Seeing as this metamorphosis starts fairly early in the film (closing at a surprising 89 minutes) ... we don't have a good sense of who Lucy is prior to the transformation. She has some nice dialogue and Scarlett Johansson is really bringing it, but we don't see her make any choices. Before the change, she's purely reactionary, and that bugged me. Later in the movie she's operating on a level with Neo and Doc Manhattan as who can have the most disinterested poker-face. Since it's intentional I can't say they did it poorly, but it personally didn't interest me. 

I'll admit when the movie does well but just doesn't click with me, as in this case. It's just the, frankly, butchered science and weird pacing that gets to me. 

The rest of the cast is ... kinda forgettable. None of them really have much to do. Morgan Freeman is once again Lord Expositor, King of Exposition, declaring things that, I'll be damned if I know how he knows. I had more than a few moments where he'd say something and I'd respond, "HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT!" I think he and Ken Watanabe's character from Godzilla studied at the same school of exposition. Declare your conclusion without anything to back it up, but do it with authority and everyone will just assume you know what you're talking about. I think that's how religion got started. 

Spectacle — The movie looks nice. It's filmed nice, and while I think it could have breathed a bit without entering padding territory, it doesn't feel rushed, just more brisk than a fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey or A Place Beyond the Pines like me might like. So yes, it looks really nice and the effects execution of Lucy's continually developing powers is very sleek. It was just built on a foundation that instantly turned me off to the movie as a whole. Shame. I thought Scarlett Johansson did a remarkable job. I really hope at least that whatever success comes from this film, she gets the credit and respect she deserves. 

And will people stop producing Besson's movies!

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