Review for Lucy [Blu-ray]
If there was one movie that I was duty-bound to watch this year, it was the live action Ghost in the Shell. I’ve been a fan of the original feature since I first saw it, and have a soft spot for the sequel, while being a total Stand Alone Complex fanboy. The cyberpunk classic is a benchmark in the genre, has influenced much that has come after it, and I really wanted to see a live action feature do it justice. Then I watched the second trailer and it all fell apart. The first trailer was utterly derivative, showing off all the cool bits of the anime made live, just what you need to sell the film to a legion of fanboys like me. But then the second trailer sold the movie as a Robocop remake, and not the good Robocop. It looked like a remake of the Robocop remake, and no one needs that. Suffice it to say, I’ve put the Ghost in the Shell movie on the back burner, and will probably watch it one day, when the Blu-ray’s in a bargain bucket.
Fortunately, Scarlett Johansson seems to be cornering the market on machine like, kick-ass female roles of late, what with the Major and the Black Widow, so you don’t have to go too far to scratch that particular itch. Another bargain bucket yielded Lucy, a high concept action movie from the director of The Fifth Element, Luc Besson, and with it being an original property, there are no nostalgic memories for it to tarnish.
Being forced to act as a drug mule for a Korean gangster is bad enough, but the drugs they are smuggling are experimental, and when a package sewn into Lucy’s stomach ruptures, the unexpected happens. The theory goes that humans use just 10% of their brain capacity, that if they could use more, they would be capable of fantastic, wondrous things. The drug in Lucy’s system has such an effect, unlocking her full potential. But it quickly becomes clear that the process isn’t stopping, and her time is running out. Meanwhile, the gangsters want their drugs back.
Lucy gets a 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc, and with it being such a recent film, there are no nits worth picking with the image quality, or the CGI effects work. It all looks good, with Luc Besson’s direction coming across well, with his characteristic eye on the action sequences. In terms of audio, you have a resplendent DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English track that does brilliantly in conveying that action and the film’s sound design, the quirky music soundtrack. You also have DTS 5.1 Surround Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, and Hindi to choose from, with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Arabic. There is also a 2.0 English audio descriptive track.
You get one disc in an Amaray case, and no doubt the Ultraviolet code for a digital copy has expired by now. The disc boots to a static menu, where you can access, The Evolution of Lucy, a 16:14 making of, and Cerebral Capacity: The True Science of Lucy, which is anything but at 10:04.
The whole 10% of our brain capacity thing has been thoroughly debunked now, in fact it had been when this film was made, which makes its entire premise a nonsensical fiction rather than compelling sci-fi. You can’t take this film seriously on any level, so the first thing you have to do is alter your mindset to enjoy it as a mindless popcorn action movie. That is possible, but then you’re left addressing the issue of just how pretentious it now feels. It’s a no win scenario which makes watching Lucy a chore rather than an entertainment. Thankfully, it’s mercifully short at less than 90 minutes in length.
It does grab the attention, the premise of the film and the way it sets up the story, with Lucy forced into doing a favour for her boyfriend, and winding up out of her depth in the midst of Korean gangsters as a result, with a bag of drugs stitched into her abdomen. And Choi Min-sik makes for a powerful screen presence as the main villain. When things kick off, with the bag rupturing and Lucy getting an overdose of the brain enhancer, the transformation from frightened girl to cool and professional action heroine looks fantastic. But as the film progresses, it takes greater and greater leaps away from reality; Lucy’s powers become more and more godlike, and the character becomes more of a calm centre of an action movie hurricane, rather than an active participant in the action herself. That’s not as satisfying.
Then there is the pretentiousness of intercutting the storyline with Morgan Freeman’s scientist delivering a lecture on unused brain capacity, which very conveniently annotates the changes that Lucy goes through. But as I mentioned, once the laws of physics get thrown out of the window, the film begins to nosedive. I don’t mind films with patently absurd premises. Come to think of it, most films that I favour are like that. But the thing about the good films is that they obey an internal logic. There are rules in those movie universes, narrative consistency which makes it easy to suspend your disbelief. The very nature of Lucy precludes that. The evolution of the character in the film renders that impossible. Luc Besson was obviously inspired by Arthur C. Clarke when he made Lucy, but it plays like 2001: A Space Parody crossed with Johnny Mnemonic. It’s pure bubblegum nonsense which doesn’t have the decency to admit it.