When Female Badassery Goes Too Far: A Review of Lucy
I have been waiting all summer for this femme fatale film, a product of Femme Nikita director Luc Besson. I feel like theaters have been filled with so much male-driven action while female parts exist only for support (see my review of Transformers: The Age of Extinction). I was extremely pumped to see Scarlett Johansson take
the role of a grungy badass chick stationed in Taiwan (a location so random, but intriguing). I was looking forward to learning about this mysterious blue substance inserted inside of her and how it was able to give her the power of time, knowledge, and memory. The film itself proved to be more shock-inducing than educational, with emphasis mainly put on the special effects department. Many scenes left me and my fellow movie-goers looking at each other trying to process how this was really happening on the movie screen, and not in a good way. It was over-the-top, jaw-dropping, yes, but only because of how ridiculous it was.
We start with a normal Lucy, party-goer, perhaps not with the best judgment. Her mess of a boyfriend drags her into this deal in which she must bring a case with unknown contents to a very powerful Asian man. Upon arriving at the hotel, everyone speaks Mandarin, but when she meets with the man and his gang, they speak Korean. It was all very confusing and nothing was explained, such as what was their organization? How does this man hold so much power that he pays off hotel officials to let him conduct surgeries in the bathroom? In one scene, a translator is needed between Lucy and the powerful Asian man over the phone, but later a British man who is part of the bad guys comes to send her off and speaks perfectly crisp English. Then there are random snippets of Morgan Freeman lecturing about human behavior and even more puzzling clips of prehistoric scenes to metaphorically compare Lucy’s purpose on the earth with the rest of history.
Scarlett Johansson’s acting is perhaps the only thing holding the film together, and even then the emotions illustrated on the screen don’t add up. One moment she is crying and frightened and the next she is completely poker-faced, void of any real emotion. Out of the blue, she has a special affinity for a French police officer and recruits him to drive her places. Lucy has the power to control minds, fast forward and rewind time, and does it all in the most theatrical way possible –with the same blank face.
I thought what the film most lacked was background information. How was the synthetic drug made in the first place and where are its roots? If Lucy was able to become so powerful with it exploding in her body, how would teenagers have received it on the drug market as it was supposed to be distributed? And then why was Lucy, this American who spoke nothing but English, in Taiwan in the first place? I was strung along by the film the whole time, truly engrossed at the flashing scenes that made everyone gasp, but now, in retrospect, I feel like Luc Besson just compiled a bunch of very edited clips together that don’t very well flow.
Lucy as a character still gave me that femme fatale vibe and I did feel invincible walking out of the theater, but even then it wasn’t enough for me to really love or want to watch the film again. Instead of reinforcing girl power, Luc Besson instead weakens it by smashing together a bunch of flashy action sequences with Lucy’s cool steadiness to make this confusing conflagration. The film cheapens the idea of womanly knowledge and strength to look like a mash-up of a superhero gone awry. To truly connect with a character they need to have depth, something that the audience can resonate with on a personal level. Lucy lacked in this department; the plot seemed to totally gloss over personal stories and emotional connections to focus rather on the special effects and intricate life philosophies. I’m still contemplating what I really watched last night, but I don’t feel settled. I recommend you save your money and forgo seeing this one. Or perhaps you will see it and discover something I didn’t. Either way, remember to sustain your own female “badassery” and be as confident and powerful as you can in this world sans mysterious, magical blue drug!
Seeing “Lucy” the movie