Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
The Professional is one of the very best Action Films of the 90’s, and would take the top spot if it were not such a renaissance for the Genre. The Story of a relationship between a foreign Assassin and a 12-year-old Orphan Girl is sweet, slightly creepy, and has managed to have a hint of timelessness twenty years later. While The Fifth Element was a certifiably insane follow-up, Writer/Director Luc Besson has spent much of the time since those Films writing and producing Action Flicks, rarely getting behind the camera himself. He made an exception for Lucy.
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a young Student in Taipei caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. After getting her hands dirtied with Drug Kingpin Mr. Jang (Choi Min-Sik), Lucy becomes a Mule with a bag of an experimental drug sewn inside of her. One fateful moment leads to the bag opening up inside of her – and the effects are immediate. She begins to change and evolve at a rapid rate, opening up her mind to new knowledge and abilities, while also striking the attention of more than a few individuals searching for her.
Drawing similar parallels to the Bradley Cooper Vehicle Limitless and little-seen Johnny Depp Film Transcendence, Besson has crafted an interesting premise for our would-be Heroine. As the Film progresses, we get to explore different creations and ideas with Lucy, it continues to deliver on that same interesting premise. It may not be scientifically-sound, but being able to unlock the brain beyond its wildest potential resonates much more than I thought it would. Influences from Terrence Malick‘s Tree of Life also can be found here.
Looking past some of the interesting visuals, the rest of the Film feels a bit hollow with much action, without the consequence that should follow. Characters are mysterious although at once, one-dimensional with the pace moving along rapidly in this 90-minute Romp. Morgan Freeman’s Professor seems to exist only to explain the early ideas and stages of evolution which Lucy goes through, but concedes that he does not know what happens after a certain point – allowing Besson free reign to construct as he feels fit. Perhaps what Lucy lacks is these presence of the high stakes required truly to engage its Audience.
Johansson sells the Role as much as she can, but never truly finds her best stride. She perfects the pale, curious stare in Under the Skin and uses it in great effect here. Her moments of desperation are interesting for how much she puts into them, but there are missed opportunities in exploring them deeper.
Outstanding Korean Star Choi‘s Mr. Jang practically rips the carpet out from under everyone. He has the flimsiest of motivations, and unfortunately he is under-utilized (see the original Oldboy or the riveting I Saw the Devil for further evidence of that). He just moves along swiftly, chewing on the scenery at every turn.
Audiences looking to be wowed visually with action and gloss will find much to enjoy about Lucy. Those familiar with the work of the brilliant Cast and Director will be left hoping for more.
Universal Pictures Canada release LUCY on Friday, July 25, 2014.