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View Full Version : Lucy (Luc Besson)



Henry Gale
07-24-2014, 02:28 AM
http://turntherightcorner.files.wordp ress.com/2014/04/lucy-2014-movie-johansson.jpg?w=1024

IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2872732/)

Henry Gale
07-24-2014, 02:50 AM
Well, holy shit. This is way weirder and more ambitious than anything the marketing would like to let you realize.

Sure, its basic conceit and the narrative structure that derives from it is pretty dumb and ridiculously vague even when it gets tries to get didactic about it, and as it chugs along with a lot of insane imagery and ideas that seem to just sort happen and move on once those pieces of Lucy's evolution are finished with instead of congealing into something more thematically meaningful. But damn if it isn't really fun and even more and more breathtaking as it progresses.

The biggest surprise is just how unabashedly and ballsily strange and even stylistically experimental it decides to be despite how many of those impulses would seem to clash with its otherwise straightforward action beats. It oddly doesn't more often than not, and even when it does go for face-value formula, like fairly well-worn chase and fighting elements, they come off much more exciting than they have any reason to because of how assured they're played with the framework of the story elements increasingly making everything seem like anything can happen in them.

It takes visual and thematic inspiration from Tree of Life and even takes actual footage from Samsara in its many sequences of juxtaposing imagery from the natural and urban world in the middle of otherwise expected scenes, and that doesn't even go into the things Johansson's body ends up doing. (Lucy and Under the Skin dual spoiler: I really appreciate and commend how much she's been willing to subvert her well-known and endlessly desirable physical appearance into being shedded, sliced, stretched, disintegrated and turned pitch-black this year.)

It does a hell of a lot in its brisk 89 minutes, and I'm not going to pretend like all of it works as it wants to (there are just as many laugh-out-loud as guttingly dark moments, and often times I wasn't sure which were intended to be which) or that it comes together with an ending that fully satisfies the weird potential it balloons for itself to that point or even wraps things up all that cleanly, but man if it didn't throw me for way more loops than I had ever expected it to and stunned me on those levels alone.

For every movie whose trailers seem to spoil way too much these, there are movies like Lucy where I kind of wish they would show a little more of their true vibes and offbeat content to let people who might actually enjoy it for that to have the urge to seek it out. Not that there's any real competition from what I've seen, but for me this is easily Besson's best since Fifth Element, and in my broadest, wildest expectations of it, that's all I could've really asked for.

*** / 7.7

Dukefrukem
07-24-2014, 04:51 AM
I love reading your posts

Henry Gale
07-24-2014, 05:30 AM
Thanks Duke!

I envy those on this site who can condense their thoughts into a few short sentences and get their point across perfectly since I almost always set out to write those types of short blurbs, and yet they almost always end up turning into things that look way too long and once they're done. :lol:

So always glad to hear when they're not only cohesive but enjoyed as well.

Skitch
07-24-2014, 05:50 AM
Wow I really wanna see this now.

Irish
07-24-2014, 06:23 AM
I'm curious about this because a bunch of young critics & vulgar auteurist fanboys are going gaga for it .. But I've also heard from other sources that it's a clusterflock of bad. Like, really bad.

Peng
07-24-2014, 06:59 AM
I previously had no interest in this until I came across a twitter blurb along the line of "As if Luc Besson saw The Tree of Life and said, 'I *must* remake this as a superhero film!' " Even the negative reviews make it sound fun to watch.

Henry Gale
07-24-2014, 07:03 AM
I'm curious about this because a bunch of young critics & vulgar auteurist fanboys are going gaga for it .. But I've also heard from other sources that it's a clusterflock of bad. Like, really bad.

It's... both?

Look, for a movie like this, released in a season like this, from a director who hasn't helmed something that's truly invigorating since I was a kid, I'd always much rather have something that strives as adorably high as it does, trying as many things as it does, and only ends up with positive returns some of the time while still securing a completely off-kilter tone and rhythm throughout instead of so many other options out there right now that design themselves as simple crowd-pleasing fare and still end up as convoluted messes in their own right.

It is so far from perfect, but there's also not all that much to directly compare it to. It's like all the minds and ideas of all the movies I mentioned above, Akira, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Limitless, any given X-Men movie and Cosmos had a weird orgy that was transcripted and feverishly adapted into one giant, rag-tag, all-consuming story.

Its universe is so elastic and rudimentary, and yet it's so unabashed and confident in what (and how) it wants to be that it's effective and emotionally undeniable in the weirdest ways. If this came out when I was 11 or 12 it'd be one of my favourite movies of the year, but of course my pesky current age and comprehension has to come in and spoil the fun by realizing it doesn't actually make any real sense.

dreamdead
07-25-2014, 02:57 AM
Mad fun. Just zany, mad fun. Love how much Besson cuts to other footage.

The last few minutes are a slight cop-out, and the amount of human collateral seems a bit in contrast with Lucy's kinda-sorta goal, but otherwise it's dandy all around.

Irish
07-25-2014, 03:23 AM
Oh wow. What the hell, dream? I feel oddly betrayed :lol:

Where do you land on the rest of Besson's work? (And for context: Movies like Gamer and Crank?)

max314
07-25-2014, 08:54 AM
After reading Henry Gale's review, my status has graduated from "mildly interested" to "must watch".

dreamdead
07-25-2014, 03:44 PM
Oh wow. What the hell, dream? I feel oddly betrayed :lol:

Where do you land on the rest of Besson's work? (And for context: Movies like Gamer and Crank?)

I agree with those that feel that Malick/Kubrick have been distilled and reworked to fit Besson's aesthetic. This film's not as "deep" as those filmmakers, but it's so odd to see a "blockbuster" film take this many chances narratively and cinematically--it goes for broke and while it doesn't always succeed (Lucy's shooting of the first taxi driver makes for little emotional sense), it's totally singular as a vision.

I have decently fond memories of Leon (though it's been at least a decade since I've seen it), and less appreciation for The Fifth Element (though I love the costumes and world building in that). This is Besson's most interesting film I've seen, I can safely say.

I do like the Crank films, which likewise build every chance of moral and cultural affront into their texts but commit to them so much and so absurdly that I don't feel disturbed by their frequently lowbrow sexual/racial stereotypes. Haven't seen Gamer.

Alex Weitzman
07-26-2014, 04:33 AM
I like to think that Besson was just sitting on a shitload of B-roll, and made up some nonsense about brain capacity and preggers-drugs to justify using all of it. "I 'ave all zis footage of animals fucking, and I am damn well going to use it!"

That was fun, well-made, and righteously smartdumb. Scarlett sold most of the movie's idiocies nicely. If anything, I'm disappointed by the ending, and the 100%. It felt arbitrary, brief, and uncertain, as if Besson ran out of all his good ideas earlier. If we're gonna take a total tour of time and space, then at least we could have been granted the fun and spectacle of Lucy going super-Tetsuo on Druglord McHurthands.

Henry Gale
07-26-2014, 06:17 AM
Weitzman! (As a former RT lurker turned member from as far back as 2002 or so that was disappointed to see the current forums folded, more than glad to see you here.)

I agree though, the biggest problem with this movie -- once you get past the inherent weakness of its internal logic and the way its plotting is dictated by it -- is the ending. I'm sure there were more than a few budgetary limitations that forbid Lucy from going into the physical omnipotent capacities you and me and likely every viewer behind it towards the end would've wanted to see, but I do think something in another few minutes beyond what we got would've at least provided a nice come-down from all its madness and provided a clearer philosophy or at least a final thematic thrust for the movie to go out on.

How 'bout some of those scenes right before it, though!

Dukefrukem
07-26-2014, 01:50 PM
Am i going to have to see this today? Damn it.

Sxottlan
07-27-2014, 06:06 AM
Some day, someone is going to pair up Lucy's speech to her mother with montage footage from The Tree of Life.. and it may just work. :lol:

Kurosawa Fan
07-28-2014, 02:28 AM
Totally gonzo fun. This is what silly action flicks should strive for. The comparisons to Tree of Life are apt. This is like Tree of Life for Idiots. The ending spoils it a bit, especially that groan-worthy final line. Was surprised by the effort put forth by ScarJo. Figured this would be a mail it in performance, but she seemed to put her all into it, which especially came through in the quieter moments. All in all, a fun night out.

Rowland
07-28-2014, 06:26 AM
especially that groan-worthy final line.Yeah, I didn't get that line at all. What exactly am I supposed to know to do?

Kurosawa Fan
07-28-2014, 02:36 PM
Yeah, I didn't get that line at all. What exactly am I supposed to know to do?

No clue. I'm still stuck at 10%.

Rowland
07-28-2014, 06:05 PM
Mad fun. Just zany, mad fun. Love how much Besson cuts to other footage.I was disappointed that he largely abandoned the associative editing after the first act, even if it resembled half-baked N/T or '90s Oliver Stone.

Rowland
07-28-2014, 06:08 PM
No clue. I'm still stuck at 10%.I just had to look up the line.

“Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what to do with it.”

How the fuck does that make any sense at the end of this film, after that climax, over that last shot? I'm at a loss, it's baffling. :lol:

Rowland
07-28-2014, 06:28 PM
A thoughtful piece (http://thedissolve.com/features/exposition/679-lucy-and-the-enduring-appeal-of-the-instant-upgrad/) on this film by Tasha Robinson was published over at The Dissolve today.

Christopher Orr's "spoilereview" (http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/07/life-is-futile-so-heres-what-to-do-with-it-according-to-lucy-a-spoilereview/375006/) is a funny read as well.

ciaoelor
07-29-2014, 12:15 AM
spoilers...

It's not suspenseful enough. For instance, what happened to her in the plane should have happened in a scene with bad guys. Or there could have been a scene where she loses her purse (somehow) and has to chase after it while coming apart. And what if the main baddie ingested the drugs after finding out that Lucy had somehow become a superwoman? Lucy needed a threat. Unfortunately there are two moments where she's faced with henchmen who you know have no chance against her.

And what about that car chase? I wish she had made an attempt to manipulate the traffic and people in order to avoid causing as much damage as she did. She didn't have to be perfect in the attempt, but an attempt would have been fine.

Alex Weitzman
07-29-2014, 01:59 AM
“Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what to do with it.”

Drugs.

Based on baby brains.

Boner M
07-29-2014, 02:27 AM
I never want to meet someone who takes issue with the scientific inaccuracy of this.

Rowland
07-29-2014, 06:25 AM
I never want to meet someone who takes issue with the scientific inaccuracy of this.Scientific inaccuracies notwithstanding, there are any number of approaches one could take in demonstrating how unbelievably stupid this movie is, but that's some part of its charm, as it really does play like something written by a teenage boy (as Besson credibly claims he was when he wrote The Fifth Element), albeit one atypically respectful of women. Besson may have been better off jettisoning the brain percentage angle altogether, though the camp value of using Morgan Freeman in a lecture hall to justify it while cutting away to associative montages of footage from Samsara and animals fucking is pretty satisfying.

I don't recall the context, but does anyone remember the moment when a character says something along the lines of "think about it for a second" and the film actually cuts to a black, muted screen for a split second? Or did I just hallucinate this?

Kurosawa Fan
07-29-2014, 02:45 PM
I don't recall that, but given everything else in the film, I feel like it has to be there.

Boner M
07-30-2014, 01:57 AM
In case anyone didn't see it, here's Besson's note from the first page of the screenplay:

http://scriptshadow.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Screen-Shot-2014-07-28-at-12.52.53-AM.png

max314
07-30-2014, 01:46 PM
That's hilarious.

number8
07-30-2014, 09:22 PM
This is like Tree of Life for Idiots.

This should be on TV spots because it just made me want to see it.

Spun Lepton
07-31-2014, 06:40 PM
Thanks Duke!

I envy those on this site who can condense their thoughts into a few short sentences and get their point across perfectly since I almost always set out to write those types of short blurbs, and yet they almost always end up turning into things that look way too long and once they're done. :lol:

So always glad to hear when they're not only cohesive but enjoyed as well.

Keep in mind, there are those of us who feel we're being to terse with our reviews. I sometimes wish I could be a little more eloquent and descriptive with my critiques. As always Henry, great write-up.

TGM
08-01-2014, 12:32 AM
Keep in mind, there are those of us who feel we're being to terse with our reviews. I sometimes wish I could be a little more eloquent and descriptive with my critiques. As always Henry, great write-up.
Yeah, I'm always amazed/impressed when I see people who can really articulate just so many thoughtful insights on just about any movie. I can do so every now and then, but I'd say about 90% of the movies I see leave me with little more to say than either I liked it or I didn't.

Mal
08-03-2014, 04:39 PM
This movie is so fucked up and enjoyed almost all of it. Sequel please.

Stay Puft
08-07-2014, 04:42 PM
Tasha Robinson's review sums up my conflicted feelings perfectly:


And it’s ultimately a disappointment because it doesn’t do enough with that trope—it doesn’t approach it creatively enough to stand out from many similar films, and it doesn’t ultimately let viewers access or even understand what’s going on with its protagonist. It’s daring in some ways because it doesn’t take the obvious narrative paths, but the woolly headed roads it does head down aren’t entirely satisfying, either.

I didn't even mind the "10% of our brain" thing so much because of how Besson deploys it as a device to show her leveling up like in a videogame, or as readings of her power level (it's over 9000!). But the whole thing is played so loose w/r/t what her powers are or what she's specifically capable of at each level that it's not terribly interesting. It's disappointing to me mostly because of how it takes what should have been a setup for batshit cinematic hijinks and fails to whip up anything remotely exciting as either a drama or an action film (none of the exposition builds anything resembling a coherent worldview, and a boring car chase and Lucy making a few thugs levitate in the air is the extent of what Besson offers in the action department). By the end, I found myself missing the nature footage intercutting and Samsara-footage-stealing montages of the earlier segments. Lucy being told it's no big deal, she'll be fine, etc. and then cutting to an image of a mouse approaching a mouse trap made me chuckle harder than anything else that happened over the subsequent 80-ish minutes.

A lot of it is still ridiculously silly and fun, of course, but... I left the theatre thinking "that was it?" and that's not how I want to walk out of a theatre.

Skitch
09-28-2014, 12:37 PM
Caught this at the dollar theater. It was decent, but the first half lagged. Way too much over-explaining. Subtlety like a brick to the face. I enjoyed the second half more than the first. Mixed bag for sure, but for the second time this week I find myself saying "I haven't really seen a flick like that before". Even with the odd pacing, I feel compelled to give it another shot when it (inevitably) hits Netflix.

Morris Schæffer
10-05-2014, 04:06 PM
Never expect much from Besson, so this was a nice surprise. It's pretty out there, but the most amazing thing is that I very nearly started to believe. Johanson gives a good performance, Freeman has that way of making you believe whenever he's absorbing some extraordinary information from someone, in this case Lucy, as if he's truly, genuinely blown away by what he's heard.

Sven
10-06-2014, 02:39 AM
Never expect much from Besson...

Why's that?

Morris Schæffer
10-06-2014, 05:13 AM
Why's that?

His track record just doesn't make me foam at the mouth whenever a new Besson movie's coming out. He seems to make the same movies over and over again, the ones he produced are the same ones over and over again. He's a French assembly line. Even his high points Leon and The Fifth Element are more succesful because of its opulent sets, fx rather and chemistry between leads than inspired direction.

Raiders
10-07-2014, 02:06 AM
His track record just doesn't make me foam at the mouth whenever a new Besson movie's coming out. He seems to make the same movies over and over again, the ones he produced are the same ones over and over again. He's a French assembly line.

This is very true, but what he writes and directs vs. what he produces and/or creates the concept for are vastly different. The ongoing brand of new wave Euro action films are certainly depressingly monotonous.


Even his high points Leon and The Fifth Element are more succesful because of its opulent sets, fx rather and chemistry between leads than inspired direction.

Not sure how that defines Leon at all, actually. And The Fifth Element is shit. Angel-A was his best... before this one.

Pop Trash
10-07-2014, 06:04 AM
I finally watched Leon last year and found it pretty underwhelming considering the hype it has gotten since 1994.

Morris Schæffer
10-07-2014, 10:51 AM
This is very true, but what he writes and directs vs. what he produces and/or creates the concept for are vastly different. The ongoing brand of new wave Euro action films are certainly depressingly monotonous.

Are different in terms of ideas and premise or different in terms of job description? I see the content he produces as an extension of what he wants to do, who he is and how far his ambition takes him (not far in other words).


Not sure how that defines Leon at all, actually. And The Fifth Element is shit. Angel-A was his best... before this one.

I know Besson directed Leon, but I don't necessarily think of it as a Besson film. Seems any number of decent directors could have made that and it's more the interplay between the leads that makes it engaging. Fifth Element has great visuals, but again the direction is merely ok.

Dukefrukem
11-26-2014, 09:11 PM
Well, holy shit. This is way weirder and more ambitious than anything the marketing would like to let you realize.


Yeh, and I think it works against itself. I kinda wish it was just Taken meets Limitless. Instead we get this weird hybrid. I think I checked out after the plane bathroom scene.

Henry Gale
11-27-2014, 06:08 AM
Yeh, and I think it works against itself. I kinda wish it was just Taken meets Limitless. Instead we get this weird hybrid. I think I checked out after the plane bathroom scene.

Ahaha, this may have been the exact moment I knew the movie was on a wavelength I wasn't even sure I had going on. Butt became cemented to seat.

The very fact that scene alone can exist in something that made $450 million+ worldwide gives me some odd sense of hope for mainstream action cinema. (If even one American director or studio looks to its insane flourishes and says, "Hey, if Lucy did what it did..." and tries to spiritually emulate it in some way, then everyone is better off for it.)

Peng
11-27-2014, 09:44 AM
Yeah, I liked Taken well enough, but would be disappointed if I watched a film that is the combination of that and the initially energetic but ultimately generic Limitless (the premise opened possibilities so much, and then it took one of the least imaginative routes possible).

I think I had a goofy stupid grin throughout the second half of Lucy.

Grouchy
01-13-2015, 02:06 PM
Wow, am I against the consensus here or what?

I guess I kind of admire the movie for not being afraid of being completely ridiculous, but that's more something I'm saying than something I'm actually feeling. It's one of the dumbest action films I've ever seen, and I don't mean because of the pseudo-science. 25 minutes into this movie Lucy could take on Superman and all she's up against is a band of Asian gangsters. There's no real tension and the stakes never go up in a satisfactory way. It could be an acceptable origin story for a character, but as a stand-alone film it didn't work for me.

Irish
01-13-2015, 02:24 PM
I didn't connect with it either, for much the same reasons.

There's a scene about half way through where she develops Jedi powers-- she waves a hand and a bunch of gangsters fly into the air. Once she did that, my interest waned. Who cares about an invincible heroine?

The opening thirty minutes are fun. I wouldn't mind the film being this silly & stupid if it entertained on top of that. But there isn't a single set piece or action sequence here that's memorable.

I kinda agree with Morris, at least in the sense that, wow, Besson has become really, really lazy.

Dukefrukem
01-13-2015, 02:34 PM
Yeh she developed her "powers" way too quickly I thought. It would have been cool if there were more Freeman and Lucy scenes where it leaves Freeman wondering WTF is going on.

I yayed this, mainly because I would watch it again if it were on HBO or FX, but i didn't think it was very well fleshed out.

Winston*
03-17-2015, 10:14 PM
There's a bit in this movie where Scarlett Johannson's friend is talking about this super hot guy she slept with, and she has to clarify "he's not Chinese". What a weirdly extraneous bit of racism.

I liked the time travel bit at the end, but thought this was otherwise pretty stupid.

Ezee E
04-29-2015, 06:05 AM
Ultimately, no. But I liked that it tried to at least create something different. The first thirty minutes are pure Besson, and once the CPH4 gets involved, it never is able to build the suspense or the tension that it once had.

It's a continuous "situation" followed by mind powers making for an easy solution. Besson's best skill is staging fun action scenes (why else are movies like Taken so enjoyable) and it never really occurs again. In movies like Taken, The Professional, Danny the Dog (?), the protagonist is usually overmatched. Never here.

Scarlett Johannson was considered to be one of the best actresses around until around 2005, in which her career projected her to one of the most bankable around. She played second fiddle in movies like The Prestige, Black Dahlia, Iron Man 2, and The Avengers. Her characters were merely there, but never given anything to work with. It wasn't until 2013's Don Jon that she started getting to play a lead/interesting character again. With this and Under the Skin, I can only hope there's more on the way. She's one of the best around.

I also got to give the movie props for having Choi Min-Sik as a lead villain.

Sven
04-29-2015, 02:59 PM
This is a new favorite. Creatively bandies its inherent idiocies with so much energy, so much commitment, and way too many excellent set pieces to ignore. Surprised at how few are talking about the car chase sequence, which was completely novel. I also feel that its ScarJo's finest acting of her career. What a difficult role... that phone call with her mom is unbearably well-executed.

Yxklyx
07-10-2015, 05:00 AM
Liked this quite a bit but I have to say that fast paced movies have a lot going for them right from the start.