LUCY directed by Luc Besson (France/USA, 2014)

Ever wondered what would happen if humans achieved the power to use 100% of their brains? No, me neither but Luc Besson has given the matter some thought and this overblown piece of cinematic nonsense is the consequence.

What makes the movie so unbearable is that you get the impression that Besson takes seriously the debunked  scientific premise that humans only make use of 10% of their grey matter. Not only that, but it is packed full of psychobabble and pseudo-spiritual musings that are preachy, absurd and humorless.

Scarlett Johanssson is charged with the task of convincing us that she has undergone this altered state but since she is laden with a truly dismal script she fails miserably.

The more her brain grows the more robotic she becomes so in the end she’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator without the muscles or one-liners. In Under The Skin her aloofness worked because she was meant to be an alien but Lucy is supposed to represent the pinnacle of human potential.

You even come to doubt her newfound intelligence when she thinks nothing of shooting a patient in an operating theatre (“He would’ve died anyway!”) but passes over countless opportunities to kill the stereotypical Korean mobsters who are pursuing her. This prolongs the chase and gives Besson a chance to stage a final shoot out but makes no sense within the context of the movie.

Lucy contacts Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) because he’s the one scientist who knows why (and can tell us) how she can develop the ability to literally apply mind over matter. You know he’s an intellectual because he talks in terms of ‘cerebral capacity’ when ordinary mortals would say ‘brain power’.

The Matrix-influenced visual effects are intermittently impressive but quickly become tiresome when they are not linked to any coherent or logical storyline. If there even the tiniest hint of irony Besson might have made this into a passable piece of mindless entertainment; instead he merely reaffirms the director’s capacity for style over substance.

 

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